American Tears - 'White Flags'

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American Tears - 'White Flags'

A truly original release that doesn't sound like anything else out there at the moment.

In these days of "identikit" Rock acts, hearing an album that is original in both sound and scope is a rare thing. Mark Mangold (of Touch and Drive, She Said fame) is the man behind American Tears, but his name makes your mind conjure up a particular sound and style of music that you think or even expect he will perform. However, 'White Flags' is far away from what you might imagine. Mangold himself handles all the vocals, drums, bass and mountains of keyboards on this release, and that's it; there are no lead guitars at all which means this is a whole different listening experience to get to grips with. Yet, as with his last American Tears album 'Hard Core', the loss of lead guitar only helps this to be a truly creative release.

'Turn U On' is ushered in on waves of keyboard refrains and it has an up to date yet retro feel to it which is intriguing. This intrigue continues all through the album via these clever and, at times, lyrically dark but always insightful songs. There are several notable tracks such as 'Wake Up City' with its funky keyboard runs that contain many changes throughout the song, 'Waltz Of Angels' which comprises dark lyrics and upbeat keys, and the epic 'Fire Down Below' where the superb opening synth cascade of human voices soon eases into a tale of darkly obsessive love.

My personal favourites include 'Turn The Page (Blue Dog)' which shows just what a wonderful keyboard player Mangold is, while the hard rocking 'Pitch Black' is powered by that glorious Hammond Organ roar as well as some hard-hitting and sombre lyrics. Finally, there is the superb title-track; if you have ever loved and lost someone in your life, I guarantee the lyrics will ring so true and recall that time when you maybe could have done so much more.

Mangold has again delivered a truly original release that doesn't sound like anything else out there at the moment. His desire to record music that veers away from what's normally expected is, for me, a breath of fresh air. Even though this won't be an album that many will like or understand, those of you who do like to try something a little different, something that makes you think or something that goes down a divergent path should get a copy of this unique record as soon as possible.

Ian Johnson

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