Deal's Gone Bad play a kind of soul/reggae crossover, occasionally slipping into ska territory on the more upbeat tracks. Is it any good? I've absolutely no idea; it bored me, but it's not my area. Although Eddie Dixon is credited with banjo and Mellotron on California And 26th and Tell Yuh, his murky string samples actually turn up on closer Walkaway.
I've been directed towards The Dears in the past as supposed Mellotron users, but 2008's Missiles is the first of their albums to actually credit it. Like the one other album of theirs I've had the privilege to hear, 2003's No Cities Left, it consists largely of a bombastic kind of 'orchestral indie', succeeding in merging the band's symphonic ambitions with the one-dimensional song structures with which the indie scene is infested. As a result, it's dull as ditchwater if you don't actually think that The Velvets define popular music as we know it. Several overlong tracks on an overlong album don't help, either. Mainman Murray Lightburn and Patrick Krief are credited with Mellotron, but the string swells on Dream Job and occasional flute line on Berlin Hearts, amongst other parts, sound sampled to my ears, an impression exacerbated by what sounds like decidedly uncredited Chamberlin solo male voice on the title track.
Wikipedia describes Death Grips as 'experimental hip hop'. Um... no shit. Split into two sub-releases, Niggas on the Moon (tracks 1-8) and Jenny Death (9-18), their fourth album, 2015's The Powers That B, is one of the furthest things from 'easy listening' I've ever heard, bar none. Yes, it's good to exist a long way from the mainstream, but the bulk of this lengthy release is so extreme that it put me on edge to the point of fervently wishing to switch it off. Yet I stuck it out. Well done, me. Eighty minutes of extreme cut-up, random distortion and deranged rhythm 'patterns', all with a couple of guys rapping over the top doth not for an easy listen make. Julian Imsdahl is credited with 'Mellotron', but... Well, do you really expect to hear a real anything on an album this 'out there'? I can hear samples on at least three tracks: stabby flutes on Black Quarterback, choppy strings on Big Dipper and flutes on Why A Bitch Gotta Lie, but any of them could be something else, while the samplotron could've been used elsewhere. I strongly suspect you're not going to be interested enough to find out for yourselves, anyway.
Upon noting that Renée "Charlie Dée" van Dongen performed a Joni Mitchell tribute tour and album a couple of years ago, I had vague hopes that she might not be awful, but no, her third album, 2010's Husbands & Wives, is your typical modern singer-songwriter/pop travesty. Comparisons? Have It All sounds like Coldplay on an even worse day than usual (i.e. U2's The Joshua Tree without the good bits), while the enigmatically-titled I Love You hints at Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, albeit not in a good way. Reyn Ouwehand (Stephan Eicher, Kane) allegedy plays Mellotron on several tracks, with flutes on Heavenly, Mouse In My Kitchen and Fragile Heart, but nothing obvious on Since He's Gone, Weep For Me or Leaves, unless it's the distant cellos on the first-named, although it's all too smoothly-played to be genuine. Overall, then, a rather insipid little effort, although I'm sure a certain demographic (weepy young women. Sorry) will go for this in a big way.
As you might expect from their name, The Deep Dark Woods are a Canadian Americana outfit, concentrating on the slow, mournful, 'trad' end of the genre. Their third album, 2009's Winter Hours, is every bit as dark and uncompromising as its title suggests, songs like The Gallows and The Sun Never Shines typifying their miserablist approach. Steve Dawson allegedly plays Mellotron on the album, but given that it's entirely inaudible in a fairly transparent mix, I'd love to know where.
Two years on and The Place I Left Behind is actually an improvement on its predecessor, although, as with so many albums of its type, the music often seems to act as a mere framework on which to hang the lyrics. Top tracks include the mournful The Place I Left Behind, The Banks Of The Leopold Canal and Never Prove False, but little here will disappoint the dedicated Americana fan. Geoff Hilhorst plays alleged Mellotron this time round, with strings on Mary's Gone and flutes on The Banks Of The Leopold Canal and Dear John, which, while nice to hear, probably wouldn't be especially missed were they absent.
2013's Jubilee is rather ironically-named, as you'd be hard-pushed to find a less jubilant album; I'm not saying that this is a problem, merely commenting... Once again, an hour or so of this stuff becomes a little wearing, although better tracks include Neil Young-esque opener Miles And Miles, Pacing The Room, It's Been A Long Time and ten-minute organ-driven closer The Same Thing, while Hillhorst plays a wandering samplotron flute line on It's Been A Long Time.
Deep Purple survived Ritchie Blackmore's departure with equanimity, replacing him with the outrageously talented Steve Morse (Dixie Dregs, Kansas). 2017's Infinite is his sixth album in twenty-odd years with the band, far better than it has any right to be, frankly, given their collective age. Highlights include opener Time For Bedlam and Birds Of Prey, while The Surprising comes across like prime Kansas in its middle section (that'll be Morse's influence, then). Not so sure about the rock'n'roll of Hip Boots or the 439th recorded version of Roadhouse Blues, but the best Purple albums always displayed a variety of styles. Perhaps surprisingly, Don Airey plays Mellotron string samples on The Surprising, although the string sounds on a couple of other tracks don't appear to be Mellotronic. A decent effort, then, all things considered; perhaps I should investigate the rest of Purple's later career?
This may sound weirdly anachronistic now, but when the world outside Sheffield first heard of Def Leppard, in mid-1979, they were regarded as being at the Thin Lizzy/Rush end of the NWoBHM, although, in hindsight, their future as the British Bon Jovi was hinted at almost from the off. I bought a copy of the second pressing of their self-released EP and have never quite forgiven myself for passing up a copy of the first pressing (red label, picture sleeve, lyric sheet) for a whole six quid at a record fair in 1980, now worth several hundred. In mitigation, it was a lot of money back then... Dork. The EP was fantastic, the flip, the seven-minute amusingly-named The Overture (to what, precisely?) being their reasonably successful attempt at 'doing a Rush', with two short, Lizzy/UFO-style rockers on the 'A', Ride Into The Sun and the iconic (though not obviously ironic) Getcha Rocks Off. They were snapped up by Phonogram, their debut (1980's On Through the Night, dreadful sleeve and all) appearing with unseemly haste, featuring re-recordings of two of the EP's tracks, a couple more Rush-alikes and snappier fare such as Wasted and Hello America. Oh what a giveaway...
The following year's still good High'n'Dry moved further towards commercial hard rock territory, then they broke through with '83's Pyromania, which set them well and truly on the path to hugeness, only matched by their glossy horribleness. Their rise to stardom was temporarily halted in 1984 after drummer Rick Allen's terrible car accident, the band watching in anguish from the sidelines as the aforementioned Bon Jovi caught up with them. Oh, fickle public... Of course, what goes up, must come down, as their early hero Philip Lynott once wrote and the mid-'90s saw their appeal becoming more selective, all the more galling for the band, as Bon Jovi's didn't, almost certainly largely due to ol' JBJ himself having kept his looks into early middle age, unlike most of the Leppards. Saying that, the Leps have had a subsequent partial career resurgence, but they shan't be playing Wembley Stadium again (if they ever did), I fear...
Er, that went on a bit, didn't it? Anyway, 2006 brought the classic 'we've run out of ideas' album, a covers set, Yeah! Unsurprisingly, it concentrates on the band members' younger days, tackling The Kinks' Waterloo Sunset passably well, plus reasonable takes on Blondie's cover of The Nerves' Hanging On The Telephone, ELO's splendid 10538 Overture, Roxy Music's Street Life, Free's Little Bit Of Love, The Faces' Stay With Me and, of course, Thin Lizzy, with Don't Believe A Word. We get a bevy of glam-era hits, too, to no-one's surprise: opener T. Rex's 20th Century Boy, David Essex's underrated Rock On, The Sweet's Hell Raiser (complete with The Darkness' resident buffoon Justin Hawkins on camp backing vocals), Bowie's Drive-In Saturday and Mott's deathless The Golden Age Of Rock'n'Roll. As with many similar sets, how can it fail? OK, the versions may not have the caché of the originals, but as long as the band in question doesn't completely balls them up (although they often do, don't they, Duran Duran?), the end result should be at the very least listenable, particularly to fans of the era covered.
Ronan McHugh plays alleged Mellotron on two tracks on the main release, with a string line under the guitar on Drive-In Saturday and a more upfront octave string part on Little Bit Of Love, making a first (and last?) for the band, although it appears to be sampled. There's a multitude of bonus tracks on various versions, including a whole eight-track disc attached to the Japanese version, with a Mellotron-fuelled take on Bowie's Space Oddity, amongst Queen (a crap version of Dear Friends), Tom Petty and The Stooges. I'm not sure of the point of albums like this, as anyone who's a fan of the era will own most of the originals, anyway and are younger Leppard fans interested? Are there any younger Leppard fans? Anyway, not a bad covers set, as they go, but not much Mellotron.
Lana Del Rey followed up her debut with the dark, self-loathing, largely Dan Auerbach-produced Ultraviolence (yeah, yeah, Clockwork Orange reference...), less awful contents including Money Power Glory and Old Money, but that's somewhat clutching at straws, frankly. Loads of credited Mellotron, mostly from Leon Michaels, with nothing obvious on opener Cruel World, faint chordal flutes and a string line on the title track, not-very-Mellotronic strings and cellos on Shades Of Cool (although no real strings are credited), flutes (and strings?) on Brooklyn Baby, flutes and muted choirs on Sad Girl (from Michaels and Kenny Vaughan), strings (?) on Fucked My Way Up To The Top and quite overt strings on The Other Woman. As for the bonus tracks on various editions, Rick Nowels' Mellotron and Chamberlin probably provide some kind of background strings wash on the radio mix of West Coast, Nikolaj Torp Larsen adds distant choirs to Black Beauty and nothing obvious from Michaels on Florida Kilos.
The phrase 'baroque pop' has been used to describe 2015's Honeymoon, which doesn't seem too far from the mark. Generally speaking, this rather dirgelike album is a better proposition than its predecessors, although High By The Beach is as irritating as her earlier work. Is that a recommendation? Not really, no. Nowels is credited with Mellotron on six tracks and Chamberlin on a further two, while Del Rey herself adds Mellotron to Freak. Nothing obvious on (real) strings-laden opener Honeymoon itself, distant strings on God Knows I Tried, pitchbent strings (?) on Freak, string swells on Art Deco, high strings on Religion, an upfront Chamby string line on Salvatore, background strings on 24, a melodic Chamby string line on Swan Song and nothing obvious on her somewhat haunted take on The Animals' Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood.
2017's Lust for Life (yes, Lana, we've all heard Iggy Pop) is even drearier than its predecessors, almost every track dragging its heels reluctantly out of your speakers. There are no highlights, a condition exacerbated by its seventy-plus-minute running time. Most of its sixteen (!) tracks have Mellotron credited, with Sean Ono Lennon on Tomorrow Never Came (ho ho), Tim Larcombe on Cherry, Dean Reid on Coachella, Zac Rae on closer Get Free and Rick Nowels on several other tracks. And how much is actually audible? Definite flutes on Coachella and Beautiful People Beautiful Problems, complete with radical pitchbend on the former, but as for the other ten credited tracks... Amusingly one of the most 'Mellotronic' sounds on the album is on 13 Beaches, a rare uncredited track. I suspect samples almost everywhere, if not everywhere. Norman Fucking Rockwell! [a.k.a. NFR!] is more of the same; I'm sure this stuff appeals to someone, I'm just not sure whom. Young People, I expect. Mikey Freedom Hart and Kieron Menzies are, between them, credited with 'Mellotron' on three tracks, Fuck It I Love You, California and The Next Best American Record, with nothing obvious, sampled or otherwise. Once again, the most Mellotronic sound on the album, the strings on Cinnamon Girl (not that one), isn't credited.
Although Dutch, country artist Ilse DeLange (de Lange) relocated to the States early in her career; believe it or not, there's been a strong country influence on Dutch music for decades. Remember Pussycat? No? Count yourself lucky. Anyway, by 2003's Clean Up, DeLange's music had slowly shifted to a kind of Americana/AOR hybrid, harmless yet somewhat uninspired, better tracks including the bluesy Machine People and the title track. Tony Harrell is credited with Hammond and/or Chamberlin on four tracks, although the sampled Chamby is only apparent on Heavenless, with a background string part that adds little to the song.
Vincent Delerm's fifth album, 2008's Quinze Chansons (der, Fifteen Songs) is precisely what it says on the tin; fifteen gentle, French-language songs that somehow manage never to tip over into 'cheesy'. Maybe it's something to do with the French chanson tradition? Or the way French lyrics sound better on this kind of stuff than English? Or simply because I can't understand the bulk of them? Jean-Philippe Verdin plays supposed Mellotron flutes on opener Tous Les Acteurs S'Appellent Terence, although given that the sound (or one very like it) crops up again on Je Pense à Toi, with a credit for 'programming', I've dumped this into 'samples'. Anyway, I doubt if you'll be very interested in this, but the very fact that it wasn't a painful listen vaguely endears it to me, although I doubt if I'll ever listen to it again.
deLillos are apparently one of the 'four greats' of Norwegian pop, although I've heard of neither them nor any of the other three. After listening to something like their sixteenth album, 2012's Vi Er på Vei, Vi Kanke Snu, I can see why; largely consisting of whiny indie, its least bad tracks are probably the less contemporary-sounding Tiden Tar and Tapetser Meg I Gangen Før Du Går, featuring some nice Neil Young-esque guitar work, which is rather clutching at straws, frankly. Credited Mellotron on three tracks, with background strings, obviously sampled, on opener Nationaltheatret and Tapetser Meg I Gangen Før Du Går, plus what I presume are meant to be Mellotron cellos on Hei, Dumme Flue, but very clearly aren't. Do you really need me to tell you 'don't bother'?
One from Nick Hewitt
Before you take one step further, read the first paragraph of the review of The Prayer of Jabez, THEN come back here.
Well, this is a surprise - CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) that sounds nothing like CCM! If I wasn't so indifferent to all things Christian, I'd say, "More, please". Seriously, as CCM goes, this is quite acceptable to ordinary punters, provided, of course, you ignore the lyrics. There again, the reason why it's not 'pure' CCM is that they have been copying styles!
From what I can gather from the poor liner notes on the CD, Delirious? (yes, the question mark IS part of the band name) are British and have been on the go since at least 1994, when they called themselves The Cutting Edge Band, but I suspect that there is a Canadian input to them somewhere. They have made, up to the point of the release of Deeper, seven CDs of uncertain quantity and quality. Even having heard nothing of these seven CDs and knowing even less about the band, I suspect that Deeper, a double CD, is a compilation, as they re-mixed or re-recorded four of their previous songs, add a new song and complete the set with twenty oldies. All of their songs are self-penned, lead singer and rhythm guitarist Martin Smith [Ed: not THAT one!] contributing over 80% of the material. The CD Touch, catalogued in Andy's Album List, probably came out immediately after Deeper. I'll review it IF (and only if) my wife buys it - I won't! I've got better things to do with my money! [Ed: See below]
It's difficult to categorise how Delirious? fits into the "Rock Spectrum" (if that's possible), as it is quite varied by any standards. Not Forgotten sounds very U2-ish, but then dives off into a typically full-on, choir-like, 'happy-clappy' "We rejoice in you, Lord" (so common of CCM) before returning to the U2 style. There's even a pseudo-bluegrass track (Happy Song) and a few other tracks are clearly imitating the style of other 'rock' bands (The Doobie Brothers, Stone Roses and Sisters of Mercy can certainly be heard). The actual musicianship is quite good - they know their stuff and the song writing is acceptable (lyrics excepted, of course). Ditch the Christian aspect and they could make it big. (Why not? Harry Webb got away with it for forty-odd years, AND he got a bleedin' gong along the way!) However, one point off their credibility chart for the use of a didgeridoo on Did You Feel The Mountains? I know Rolf Harris did an obscene cover of Led Zep's Stairway To Heaven, but this is out of order!
Mellotron is there, though it's as rare as Satan at a revival meeting. No specific credit for the Mellotron is given, but one Tim Jupp is credited as keyboard player. There is a possibility that Chuck Zwicky plays the Mellotron, as, according to Andy (the good Mr. Thompson to you), Chuck plays Mellotron on Touch (see above) [Having said that, Mr. Zwicky does get a credit - for some of the insert photography!] I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever has got a single chord of something indefinable in the middle of the song. I've no idea what it is, but it's there - no question. Follow appears to have low pitched flutes following the song vocal melody, then is reprised a little later. Kiss Your Feet also has something at the beginning of the track, but then gets buried by a combination of a String Synth AND a string orchestra.
Overall, the music is quite varied, covering a range of styles. This won't appeal to some of you, but I don't have a problem with that. Musicianship is excellent, though a lot of work in the production must have helped. Best track is Jesus' Blood on Disc 2 - the music is VERY non-CCM. The musicians know their instruments and what to do with them. DO NOT, however, buy this CD for Mellotron. There isn't enough to make that worthwhile.
Since Nick submitted the above review, I've obtained a copy of Delirious?' follow-up, 2002's Touch and it seems to be pretty similar to its (compilation?) predecessor, being a mix of various 'modern rock' styles. It's largely inoffensive; even the lyrical content isn't too oppressive, which is something you can't say too often about CCM albums, while closer Stealing Time creates a genuine atmosphere over the course of its near-eight minute length. Co-producer Chuck Zwicky allegedly plays Mellotron on three tracks, with rather un-Mellotronic strings on Love Is The Compass and fairly Mellotronic flutes on Rollercoaster, although nothing obvious on Waiting For The Summer. Samples across the board on both albums.
Italy's Delirium were one of a host of relatively short-lived '70s progressive bands from that country, releasing three albums in their original 'lifetime'. Like many others, they're back for a second (or in some cases, third) go, in a hugely different scene to the one in which they first appeared, where the idea of a 'career' is effectively redundant, progressive festivals and the Internet keeping bands alive on a project basis. Their reformation album, 2009's Il Nome del Vento, is an on/off excellent work, its best tracks (including Ogni Storia and Dopo Il Vento) mildly sabotaged by some slightly half-baked material, not least the fusion attempt on closer L'Aurora Boreale. And what exactly, chaps, is with Verso Il Naufragio? Halfway through, they suddenly launch into George Martin's Theme One, known to most of us from Van der Graaf's version, of course, for no readily apparent reason.
Although original keys man Ettore Vigo is credited with Mellotron, are we really expected to believe that we're hearing one in the polyphonic flutes on L'Acquario Delle Stelle, amongst others? Even if the credit's only referring to the Mellotronic strings on several tracks (particularly evident on Profeta Senza Profezie), they simply don't have that ring of authenticity about them, I'm afraid. Surprised? Nope. Had Delirium edited their material more efficiently, this could've gained an extra half star; as it is, it's still a fine album, with minor reservations. No real Mellotron, though.
Given that this is an English-language website, Foivos Delivorias (Φoíβoς Δεληβoριάς) presents us with something of a problem, as 2010's O Aoratos Anthrwpos (O Aóρατoς Άvθρωπoς) is clearly aimed at the Greek and only the Greek market, with no transliterations; I had to scrabble around the interweb to find anything at all. The album delivers a weird combination of Greek folk-influenced pop and electronica that may well (or may not?) go down well in Delivorias' home country, but is unlikely to make inroads anywhere else. Although George Katsanos is credited with Mellotron on Mηδέv Eισερχóμεvα, the only thing that even might be vaguely Mellotronic is the long-attack sound near the beginning of the track, which struggles to even sound like a sample. Who knows what they were actually using? Frankly, you're probably not going to want to hear it for yourself, anyway.
Deluge Grander's debut, August in the Urals, is yer proper full-on progressive album, although like so many modern efforts, a little editing may have been a good move. They wear their influences on their collective sleeves, Genesis coming high on the list, although I definitely spotted some Happy the Man in places, particularly on opener Inaugural Bash. They're at their best when playing instrumentally, which is where (say) the exceedingly long Inaugural Bash wins out over the still quite lengthy title track. Some nice (real?) Clavinet work on A Squirrel livens the piece up, although vocals are definitely not the band's strong suit. Keyboard/guitar (and sometime vocal) man Dan Britton has told me that although they use Mellotron samples liberally, they're taken from an actual machine, rather than being third-party efforts from the M-Tron or whatever. They mostly sound very good, I have to say, with the usual strings/choirs/flutes being smeared over much of the album's length - this would probably be a TTTT effort, were it applicable.
Three years on and they're at it again, with The Form of the Good. Have they raised the bar? I think so, yes. The vocals are almost gone (hurrah!) and a Yes influence seems to have crept in from somewhere, but given some of the crud they could have been listening to... The album's intensity ratings are up all round, too, with some truly cataclysmic climaxes to be heard; makes me quite glad I'm listening to this on small speakers... Not all that much fakeotron this time round, maybe surprisingly; possibly a TT½, were it relevant. All in all, chaps, an excellent little prog album with only one completely monster track and even that doesn't outstay its welcome. Splendid. The band used Ilúvatar's Mellotron on 2014's Heliotians although it was back to normal for 2017's Oceanarium. To be honest, it's somewhat overlong, as in 'a few seconds short of maximum CD length' and could really have done with a serious edit. Saying that, material such as The Blunt Sun And The Hardened Moon and Marooned And Torn Asunder are well worth the price of entry, but there's... just too much of it. Quite a bit of samplotron strings and choir this time, heard on most tracks.
Accomplished jazz pianist Lyubomir Denev was on a fusion kick in 1980, sounding not dissimilar to other East European ensembles, albeit with more melody. Although we get some ripping Clav work on Ritual Dance, like so many similar releases, there's not only none of the credited Mellotron to be heard, but not even anything faintly resembling one.
Californian singer-songwriter Brett Dennen has one of the most infuriatingly whiny voices I've heard in a while, although even Sinatra couldn't save the horrible, mainstream alt.pop of Loverboy. This is the kind of music that gets used (frequently, by the looks of it) on crummy mainstream TV programmes, the reggae-lite-lite backing on several tracks coming across as faintly offensive. Least awful track? vaguely folky/jazzy closer Walk Away, Watch Me Burn, but that shouldn't be taken as any kind of recommendation. Andreas Olsson is credited with Mellotron. Where? Where? Can't hear a fucking thing. Hateful. I am weakened. Avoid.
Andy Denton was vocalist with Christian AOR also-rans Ruscha (told you they were also-rans), then with breakaway faction Legend/Legend Seven, so we're not exactly talking 'Wembley headliners' here, unless it's the Wembley Dog & Duck (which may possibly be rhyming slang). For some reason, this gave Denton the idea that he could have a solo career, releasing the gospelly-inclined Midnight of Hope in 2000. So, let's see: Christian (I prefer 'Xian', 'cos it sounds like the aliens in a particularly schlocky 'sci-fi' series), AOR, ego. Not a promising mixture, eh? Correct. The album's horrible, veering between soft AOR (On These Raging Streets, As Far As My Heart Can See), vaguely funky AOR (At The Cross, Forgiveness) and the expected slushy ballads (Fifty Years From Now, Remember Me, nearly everything else). Lyrically, it's exactly what you'd expect, preaching to the converted. And me, but it's wasting its time there. The title track's especially obnoxious on this front, but they're all pretty grim. I was hoping that the album's Mellotron sighting would prove to be erroneous, so I wouldn't have to write this guff, but there's a repeating flute part on Plastic Paradise which initially sounds like a Mellotron, but seems far too, I dunno, 'steady' to be the real thing, not to mentioned its uncredited status (most Mellotron users these days are keen to advertise the fact).
The Derailers are a trad-country outfit from Texas (where else?), whose fourth studio album, 2001's Here Come the Derailers, harks back to the genre's honky-tonk roots in places, although a good chunk of the album consists of typical country ballads, thankfully without the almost-obligatory layer of Nashville schmaltz. While largely inoffensive, this is also largely forgettable, although I'm sure fans of the genre will lap it up. Sandy Williams is credited with Mellotron, but I have absolutely no idea where, the only strings on the album sounding most un-Mellotronic. So; generic country, no obvious tape-replay.
Only ever available on cassette, this is a pleasant instrumental album, sitting somewhere in between prog-lite and new age, Desmond playing hammered dulcimer on most tracks. I've no idea what the tape inlay might say, but Discogs credits 'Mellotron [polyphonic keyboards]', although all we get is a cheap-sounding polysynth (Roland?) on three tracks.
Vancouver-based Destroyer sound like they should be a metal band, but aren't; think: indie/singer-songwriter crossover and you might be nearer the mark. 2008's Trouble in Dreams is actually their eighth album (they formed back in '95) and, despite the occasional song where it all comes together, the bulk of the record sounds, at least to my ears, like a bit of a mish-mash of influences, Neil Young sitting next to Guided By Voices, or any one of a hundred other indie darlings. In case there was any doubt over the matter, Ted Bois is credited specifically with M-Tron; the Mellotron string sounds are actually pretty good, although I doubt if they'd hold up too well if used solo. Anyway, they're used on Foam Hands, My Favorite Year and another three or four tracks, to reasonable effect, although I can't really say they improve the material.
Devadas (a person, not a band) combines several genres on the somewhat overlong Ocean: Songs for Amma, including folk, indie, post-rock, psychedelia and bhajan (traditional Indian devotional music, CD Baby tells me), the end result being something of a curate's egg, at its best on World Is An Ocean, I Travel Silent and Majnun. Devadas and Tony Jarvis are both credited with Mellotron, but the flutes on Homecoming and closer You Can Be Love If You Want To sound little like a real machine.
Over twenty years after Mink DeVille's Spanish Stroll, Willy DeVille is long-haired and unrecognisable, but Horse of a Different Color's mix of R&B, soul, rock, Cajun and about a dozen other styles have a ring of familiarity about them, along with his unique voice. This is one of those albums that I can't see myself playing too often, but which screams "I'm brilliant!" from every pore (assuming records had pores. Well, you know...). It's almost a primer in American music of the last fifty years, from the French accordion-driven Gypsy Deck Of Hearts to the folk hollers Goin' Over The Hill and 18 Hammers to the rock/soul of (Don't Want You) Hanging Around My Door. Producer Jim Dickinson (Big Star) is credited with Mellotron on DeVille's take on Needles And Pins, but the only thing it even might be is a vague, high, background string part that could be almost anything, really. Samples, then.
Between the Concrete & Clouds and Bulldozer are indie-end-of-powerpop kind of albums, at their best on the former on the slowburn 11-17 and I Used to Be Someone and on the latter on You Brushed Her Breath Aside and the energetic She Can See Me. Brian Bonz plays samplotron strings on The City Has Left You Alone on the former, while Rob Schnapf adds a background flute line to opener Now: Navigate! and a couple of string chords to the end of For Eugene on the latter.
The Occidental Taurus (riffing on The Accidental Tourist, of course) sits somewhere in between folk, indie and Americana, probably at its best on two of its slowest tracks, How The West Was Won and Even The Longest Night. Andy Burton's 'Mellotron' finally appears towards the end of lengthy closer A Call For Caroline, with some not-especially-Mellotronic choirs.
Painfully bland Italian-language pop/rock with no outstanding features. Plenty of real strings, no Mellotron. Shortest review ever?
Maurizio di Tollo has played with Höstsonaten, La Maschera di Cera, Finisterre, The Watch and many other current Italian progressive outfits. His first solo release, L'Uomo Trasparente, sounds like an amalgam of several of his old bands, modern influences rubbing shoulders with run-of-the-mill bombastic prog moves, all power-chording guitar and (fake?) Taurus pedals, although, somehow, it comes across as a cohesive whole. He credits himself with Mellotron, but not only is it extremely unlikely he used a real machine, but it's hard to tell where he even used samples. The background strings on La Curva Dei Pitosfori? Choirs on closer I Topi Saranno I Vincitori?
Going by her second album, 2015's Create Your Own Mythology, Kristin Diable sits firmly in the country rock camp, albeit a form which allows for a little Tex-Mex guitar to spice things up. It's a decent record, without being jaw-dropping, better tracks including opener I'll Make Time For You (always open with a good'un), Bird On A Wire's superior balladry and the driving Make The Most, though nothing here offends. Mike Webb's 'Mellotron' credit's a bit on the shaky side, I'm afraid; the flutes and strings on Deepest Blue are too even and played too quickly for verisimilitude, ditto the strings on Make The Most, amongst others, so into samples it goes. Anyway, a good album of its type, but, going by the evidence here, Ms. Diable has yet to write anything truly outstanding.
Brighton's Diagonal produced one of 2008's finer albums in the shape of their eponymous debut, making me wonder where they'd gone. Well, it seems that lineup changes delayed things, 2012's The Second Mechanism being the eventual end result. This is the sound of a band coming to musical maturity, learning to shape their influences into a cohesive whole, actually sounding like a real band, as against a collection of musicians who happened to find themselves playing together (very well, as it happens; this is not a criticism). While pinpointing any 'top tracks' can really only be a job for the individual, this particular listener, perhaps surprisingly, found the album's only vocal track, Hulks (which reminds me of MkII King Crimson, as against, of course, King Crimson's MkII) to be its finest ten minutes or so. Nicholas Richards bravely admits to playing M-Tron through some guitar pedals and an amp (thanks, Nick), with background strings on These Yellow Sands and possible flutes elsewhere, but his samplotron use is kept to a minimum, to the point where I'm not entirely sure why they even bothered.
A rather generic indie album, marred by its excess length; forty minutes of this stuff (indeed, most stuff) is quite enough in one hit, thank you very much. Ira Ferguson theoretically plays Mellotron, but the muted string line on Hypocrisy Free and chordal choirs on closer Star Child really aren't.
Alela Diane's About Farewell is a beautiful, yet rather one-paced gentle singer-songwriter album, highlights including the title track, Lost Land and closer Rose & Thorn. John Askew's polyphonic 'Mellotron' flutes on Rose & Thorn most likely aren't, however.
Comedian Andy Dick (his real name, fortuitously) was originally a protégé of Ben Stiller, going on to host his own show and piss audiences off across America with his gross-out style. We should probably be thankful that 2002's Andy Dick & the Bitches of the Century is his sole album to date, although, in fairness, some of it is actually funny, as long as you switch your PC detector off before listening. Musically, it defaults to a kind of mainstream rock template, shifting between acoustic opener Love Ninja (The Stalker Song), metal-lite on Hole Burns and the piano balladry of Cock & Balls, apart from closer Little Brown Ring (Remix), which is as crappily dance-orientated as you might expect, but at least pushes the total length (fnar fnar) to over half an hour. Lyrically (or the nearest this ever gets to 'lyrics'), it's as crass as the titles suggest, more amusing efforts including stalker anthem Love Ninja, all-night drug session tale Hole Burns and rehab epic 30 Days 30 Nights. Kevin Augunas and Russ Irwin both play supposed Chamberlin, with flute and string parts on Striped Sunlight, orchestrally-inclined strings on Little Brown Ring, with more strings on Stephen Hawking and Secret Garden, although I suspect samples. So; one for your sniggering teenaged nephew who splutters every time he hears someone say 'sphincter', or any other real-life Beavis or Butthead you may happen to know.
Bruce Dickinson is rock's very own renaissance man; ex-public schoolboy, singer, songwriter, musician, DJ, fencer, pilot, novelist (but for Chrissake don't buy his awful and deservedly long out of print sub-sub-sub-Tom Sharpe novels, assuming you can find them). The ridiculous Iron Maiden's vocalist from 1981 to '93, then '99 to the present, Dickinson has also had a reasonably successful solo career since 1990, beginning with that year's Tattooed Millionaire. He hooked up with guitarist/producer Roy Z of Tribe of Gypsies for its follow-up, '94's Balls to Picasso, who returned for Dickinson's fourth album 'proper', '97's Accident of Birth. I suppose I was hoping for something a little more 'epic' than the album has turned out to be; it's largely generic metal, rather reminding one (totally unsurprisingly) of... Iron Maiden, although Bruce's voice obviously aids the comparison. In fairness, Roy Z and another (then-) ex-Iron, Adrian Smith's guitar work is more contemporary than Maiden have ever managed, several tracks featuring downtunings and almost-thrashy rhythms, though never enough to alienate Dickinson's core audience. It's difficult to pick out any highlights per se, as the album struggles to drag itself out of the bog-standard metal trap, although I'm sure many listeners will heartily disagree.
As far as Z's 'Mellotron' work is concerned, I suspect the strings on Taking The Queen and Man Of Sorrows are the credited violin and cello, although both tracks also feature rather muted choirs, while Omega's strings must be Mellotronic due to nothing else being credited. The only really overt Mellotron part is the strings on Arc Of Space, though, where they come right to the front of the mix, alongside the real ones, but I'm quite sure it's all sampled. So; if you like Maiden, you stand a fair chance of liking Accident of Birth; in fact, it does little to offend metal fans in general, which is also the album's downfall, in that it also does little to appeal to anyone outside the genre. Then again, is it trying to? I somewhat doubt it, so I suppose it could be considered a success on that level.