Donovan's Brain (presumably named for the 1953 film of Curt Siodmak's novel) have been around since the '80s, I believe, led by Ron Sanchez, although it seems he's more the conductor of the orchestra than musical despot, allowing contributors to guide recording sessions. I actually wish he'd guided 1999's Eclipse & Debris' sessions with a slightly firmer hand, to be honest, as the end result's something of a sprawling mess, only occasionally cohering into the kind of psychedelia that makes Planet Mellotron's pulse quicken. Sanchez' alleged Mellotron on Pollyanna Disillusioned barely even sounds like one, too, to the point where I can't tell whether it's supposed to provide the stringy sound or the flutey sound. Fail. Although 2003's The Great Leap Forward doesn't even credit anyone with Mellotron, various online mentions attest to it. The album's actually a little better than Eclipse..., better tracks including All Fall Down and closer Ocean Of Storms. That Mellotron? I'm not even sure if the strings on The Known Sea count as Mellotron samples, frankly.
Gothenburg's DoomDogs (or Doomdogs) are a classic doom outfit, right down to their name. Influences? Black Sabbath, of course. Their second album, 2011's Unleash the Truth, despite being somewhat overlong, is a solid genre release, better tracks including opener Eye For An Eye, the acoustic Legacy and the mildly psychedelic Magic Of The Black Circle, although closing the album with a lacklustre cover of the Sabs' A National Acrobat is a bit of a mistake. Look, chaps, you're not going to improve on the original, so why bother? Emil Rolof plays big, fat samplotron flutes and strings on Save Me, although the flute on Legacy is clearly real, despite one not obviously being credited.
Dora Flood seem to be mostly described as 'shoegaze', a genre whose boundaries still confuse me. Their second album, 2000's Lost on Earth, sounds like a fairly typical indie release of the era to my ears, Stone Roses drumming sitting uncomfortably alongside a distinct pre-psych '60s influence (notably on Gridlock), mostly to little effect. Michael Padilla plays samplotron, with background flutes and string stabs on closer Filling My Days With Illusion.
The Gothenburg-based Dorena fit pretty neatly into the post-rock area; you know, ambient/proggy atmospheres, rarely any vocals, most tracks building up to a peak then winding down again: 'crescendo rock'. Like so many modern genres, it hasn't really got that much to say musically; the bulk of the material that's passed through Planet Mellotron's hands has sounded pretty much like everything else and Holofon is no exception. Don't get me wrong; it's pleasant enough, completely inoffensive, in fact, but it just sort of drifts from one track to another without making any real impression. Maybe that's the point. Anders Rane plays 'Mellotron' strings on Till Våning Tretton, with a part that could quite easily have been played on anything.
Dorian Gray were a 'transcendental indie' outfit from Hälleforsnäs, Sweden, Hazel Grove 07:46 being their second and last album. Be thankful, people; this is utter shlock, the very worst kind of sub-Coldplay/Sigur Rós-lite drivel you can imagine. 'Local band' stuff, with bells on. The nearest it gets to a 'best track' is the crescendo on closer Teacher's Pet. Not that close, frankly. Producer Anders Hellgren is credited with Mellotron on Me Being You, but the flutes and strings on the track struggle to even attain 'sample' status.
Les Choses de la Vie is an album of understated French-language pop, Pascale Baehrel's breathy vocals fitting the vibe perfectly. No, I didn't like it, but no, nor can I mark it down on those grounds. Mellotron? Nothing obvious from Laurent Manganas on opener Calme Blanc and faint flutes from Laurent Marimbert on Entre Vous Et Moi, almost certainly sampled.
Giuliano Dottori is an Italian singer-songwriter of the kind that no-one outside his home country is even going to have heard of, let alone like, chiefly because Italian isn't the most widely-spoken language and his second release, 2009's Temporali e Rivoluzioni, is the kind of album where the lyrics are clearly far more important than the anodyne music. In fairness, it's harmless enough, but mostly sounds like no more than a Mediterranean version of Coldplay, albeit with less irritating vocals, the exception being closer Le Cose Semplici, which sounds like Coldplay-goes-post-rock. Also, however platitudinous his lyrics may be (or may not; I don't know), I don't understand them, so they can't offend me with their possible awfulness. Giovanni Ferrario plays samplotron, with ample strings and flutes on opener Chiudi L'Emergenza Nello Specchio, background strings and upfront flutes on La Tua Casa È Piena, uncredited strings on Inno Nazionale Del Mio Isolato, but nothing on the credited Partenze Coincidenze.
Although I've listed Doubt as being British (well, that's what their MySpace page says), they're actually the multinational trio of Brit Alex Maguire (Hatfield & the North, keyboards), Belgian Michel Delville (guitar) and American drummer Tony Bianco, whose stock in trade is a particularly fiery brand of fusion, occasionally almost tipping over into metal. Their debut, 2010's Never Pet a Burning Dog, is not an album for the faint-hearted, which, after deceptively calm opener Corale Di San Luca, rarely lets up from the furious pace set by second track in, Laughter. Canterbury legend Richard Sinclair (Caravan, the Hatfields, Camel) guests on a few tracks, providing very distinctive vocals on Corale Di San Luca and the album's other 'quiet track', Passing Cloud, with bass on the former and Laughter. His work on the album is atypical of the whole, however, which tends towards near-atonal Rhodes-led instrumental workouts and the mad, riff-frenzy of the Gentle Giant-ripping Cosmic Surgery. The album was recorded at the also legendary Beppe Crovella (Arti & Mestieri, a host of '90s Italian neo-proggers)'s studio, utilising his collection of vintage gear, although the Mellotron sounds sampled. Anyway, Maguire sticks strings all over Passing Cloud and Cosmic Surgery, the latter possibly doubled with Farfisa.
Doves are one of those inexplicably popular bands, i.e. I'm so out of touch with the taste of 'ordinary people' that I have absolutely no idea what they see in this mainstream, part-indie, part sub-post-rock, part guitar pop stuff. Their fourth album (after a four-year gap), 2009's Kingdom of Rust, is pretty much as irritating as their earlier releases, the bulk of it consisting of the variety of mock-transcendental nonsense peddled by the kind of band who are used for incidental music on the telly (note: this is not a dig at the mostly excellent Sigur Rós). Compulsion and House Of Mirrors are about the least awful things here, with the former's vaguely '70s funk feel and the latter's marginally more rocky approach, but that shouldn't be taken as any kind of recommendation.
In an interview for Sound on Sound mag, producer Dan Austin commented, "It'd be great to have a real Mellotron, but I've had such problems with trying to record real ones in the past, I've actually ended up using the plug-in, 'cause half the notes on the real one don't work and they're noisy". Oh dear. Noisy, is it? Might spoil your super-clean stadium production, might it? Find one that works, for fuck's sake. Ironically, the only place you can definitely hear their M-Tron is on the two tracks produced by the legendary John Leckie, with an obvious flute part on Winter Hill and more of the same on 10:03. Anyway, this sucks monstrously. Avoid.
1996's The Hypocrite appears to be Ryan Downe's sole album to date, for which we should probably be grateful; its barely-acceptable mainstream pop/rock content is scuppered by his awful, whiny voice, of the 'sets your teeth on edge' variety. Less terrible tracks? A little cluster of relatively inoffensive material in the middle of the record, notably Through The Window, Damned With You, Scratch and the darkly balladic I Shot You Down, although any attempt to describe them as 'highlights' brings the phrase 'clutching at straws' to mind. Bob Marlette plays alleged Mellotron, with sympathetic string parts on Through The Window and The Machine, although the strings on I Shot You Down are real.
I'm not entirely sure where Downpilot are coming from on Leaving Not Arriving; it's a sort of melancholy indie/folk kind of thing, but in that irritating modern way where twenty-five years of 'indie' have taken their toll on the songwriting, the drumming, the way the singer sings... I blame the bloody Smiths. And The Cure. I'm trying to think of those bands' American equivalents, but I can't, probably because, deep down, I really don't want to. I'm sure this stuff is immensely heartfelt, but to my ears, it just sounds like people moaning. With a harmonica. I mean, what possessed them to use a gob-iron on this album? You ain't Dylan you know, guys... Steve Moore (the Zombi guy?) is credited with Mellotron, but the only thing here that even might be one is a few seconds of strings in High Water Mark. 2006's Like You Believe it is all too similar, at its (kind of) best on A Wave. Paul Hiraga's credited with Mellotron on closer Tiny California, but the flutes and cello on the track sound little like a real machine.
Draconian are a fairly typical Scandinavian metal/goth crossover band, featuring wafty female and grunting male vocals in equal measures, at least on their fourth album, 2008's Turning Season Within. It's a perfectly acceptable example of its genre, even if the male vocals are a bit silly (how could they not be?), although no one track stands out particularly from the pack. Keyboard programmer Andreas Karlsson adds 'Mellotron' strings and occasional flutes to several tracks, all to very good effect; just a shame it's not real, eh? This kind of epic metal responds well to Mellotron sounds, particularly the strings, but so few of this type of band actually use the real thing. So; good at what it does, all assuming the usual.
The semi-legendary William D. Drake played keyboards and wrote the (very) odd track for the mighty Cardiacs during their salad days in the '80s (not often I can say that). After leaving at the beginning of the '90s, Bill has kept in close contact with the band, releasing his eponymous 2001 album on their side-project label, All My Eye & Betty Martin Music (also home to Spratleys Japs); to no-one's surprise, its varied contents sound like a cross between Cardiacs themselves, their mid-'80s Mr. & Mrs. Smith & Mr. Drake offshoot and various other projects, including Lake of Puppies. Think: somewhere between pre-war tea-dance music and Henry Cow, or '70s kids' TV programme music played by a distressed ballet lesson pianist. Possibly. Is telling you that the album sounds like it was recorded in a church hall somewhere in suburban England any use? Thought not. Although he used the Planet Mellotron M400 on his 2002 Melancholy World EP, Bill uses samples here, with strings on opener Miaow Miaow, Poor John and Freedom And Love, although they're hardly one of the album's defining features.
I haven't heard Bill's two interim albums, 2007's simultaneous releases Yew's Paw and Briny Hooves, but 2011's The Rising of the Lights is a near-masterpiece, possibly best described as far less... creaky than his earlier work. Although still a deeply eccentric album, the intervening decade seems to've smoothed out Bill's rough edges, but in a good way, resulting in an album every bit as individual as William D. Drake, but also far more listenable. Highlights include jolly opener Super Altar, the proggy, Cardiacs-esque The Mastodon, Laburnum and beautiful closer Homesweet Homestead Hideaway, but you'd be hard-pushed to find a surplus track here. Bill uses Mellotron samples here and there, notably the flutes on In An Ideal World, although the same sound seems to be hanging around in the background elsewhere, too.
Terry Draper was one third of Klaatu, not that you'd know it from their early albums, during the 'it's The Beatles!' excitement of their debut. Over fifteen years after the band's dissolution, he released his first solo effort, 1997's Light Years Later (yes, I ignored the gross scientific inaccuracy, too), a collection of classy 'intelligent pop' material, although it could easily have been trimmed by anything up to twenty minutes and been tightened up in the process, top tracks including My Girl Overseas, complete with tuned ship's foghorn, the rocky Here's To You, the balladic Fly Away and epic closer Sunset Years. Draper uses fairly obvious Mellotron samples (well, it was the '90s) on over half of the album's tracks, with string and flute parts everywhere you look, original album closer Sunset Years being its 'Mellotron' highlight. You're never going to mistake the samples here for the real thing, but Light Years Later is a mostly excellent album, well worth hearing for anyone who ever liked Klaatu.
After their excellent Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory (****½ - probably Dream Theater's most cohesive piece of work, despite its indulgences), it was back to business as usual with their sixth full album, the lengthy double Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, which has more in common with the overblown Awake (***) than their better releases; far too many solos and far too few tunes, although it does have its moments. The Great Debate is not among them, however, being (seemingly) about embryo stem cell research, with plenty of spoken-word samples. It's difficult to tell what the band's stance actually is from the lyrics, though they seem to be sitting on the fence a little, which makes me wonder why they bothered. As many of our mothers have been known to say, "If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all".
I've been assured by Mike that the 'making of' video for the album shows their third keyboardist Jordan Rudess (ex-Dixie Dregs) plonking away at a Kurzweil K2600xs while recording 'Mellotron' parts, those being so-so strings on Misunderstood and a choir part on Disappear; this doesn't actually surprise me in the slightest, but I hadn't previously had any firm evidence to back up my suspicions. The second disc is another concept piece and, I have to say, DT seem to work better in the long format; dunno why, but while this isn't as good as Scenes From a Memory, it's an awful lot better than anything on disc one. Plenty of choirs, too, though I don't think they're (pseudo-)Mellotron-generated, meaning the album has even less (fake) Mellotron than their other relevant release, Falling Into Infinity.
Despite several mistaken sightings, the only other Dream Theater fakeotron I can trace is on 2007's Systematic Chaos, which I've been told by friends (yes, I have some that like the band. OK, yes, I have some) is 'more progressive'. Hmmm. And hmmm again. If fitting eight tracks into almost eighty minutes is 'progressive', then yes, maybe it is. Otherwise, it's effectively just the same old same old, better than 2003's Train of Thought, while worse than its successor, 2009's Black Clouds & Silver Linings, which is just about all I can think of to say about it. Actually, I have to make a point here that's just occurred to me: Dream Theater's lyrics. Now, is it just me, or is their almost-autistic literalness on a level that makes, say, Iron Maiden's look like the epitome of expressionism? Oh yeah - fakeotron: a few string and choir parts on Repentance.
2007's Images & Words: 15th Anniversary Performance Live in Bonn, Germany, 6/16/07 is exactly what it says on the tin, a live performance of what many fans revere as the band's finest hour or so. Back in the day (as they say), I, too, loved Images & Words, although time and experience have taught me that combining the wrong kind of metal with the wrong kind of prog, then throwing some AOR into the mix doth not for great music make. The material still has its moments, particularly parts of opener Pull Me Under and Metropolis, although Surrounded sounds exactly like the big, cheesy, AOR ballad-with-fiddly-bits it always was, while the rest of the album is and always was, quite clearly, a great deal of arrangement in a hopeless quest for a tune. And why, pray, is there a burst of Floyd in the middle of Surrounded? Samplotron? Mr. Rudess plays a strings solo at the beginning of Surrounded, carrying on into the song, giving us a vague idea of what it may have sounded like with a real one.
Dreams So Real were yet another '80s outfit from Athens, GA, operating in the powerpop area, going by their third album (of four), Gloryline. Top tracks? Difficult to say, but there's nothing here that should disappoint genre fans. Greg Reding is credited with Mellotron, in those times of minimal tape-replay, but, assuming one's present at all, it's inaudible.
Amanda Palmer's Dresden Dolls' Yes, Virginia... is a fairly startling album; it vaguely reminds me of some awful '60s piano cabaret stuff I've heard, except it's good. Really good. The vocals/piano/bass-drums sound that informs the bulk of the record sounds like a female Brecht on speed, making a sound that I can almost guarantee you haven't heard before. If the album has a fault, it's that fifty-five minutes is a long time when there's little stylistic divergence, but that's nit-picking, really. Palmer plays Mellotron strings on closer Sing, but if the album's sound wasn't already so sparse, you probably wouldn't hear it at all, so I presume samples.
Phil Driscoll's been around approximately forever, although I'd never heard of him before I ran across 1996's A Different Man. Although he made his first album in 1970, in his early twenties, his career didn't take off properly for another decade, probably when the concept of CCM picked up speed. Yup, he's a Christian, titles like Road To Jerusalem, Walk With Me Jesus and Christ Remains (wouldn't that be a holy relic?) leave you in no doubt as to where his loyalties lie. Like most CCM, the music appears to be entirely secondary to the 'message', although said 'message' is exactly the same one peddled by every other Christian album, ever, making me wonder why anyone bothers making any more (he said, hopefully). Matt Huesmann plays samplotron on The Time Of Your Life, with an almost interesting flute part in an otherwise utterly insipid song.
Drive-By Truckers are a 'Southern Rock' outfit with three guitarists, leading to inevitable comparisons with Lynyrd Skynyrd, exacerbated by their third studio album, 2001's double Southern Rock Opera, a parable based on Skynyrd's rise and (literal) fall. Their style has shifted within the Southern continuum over the years, however, bringing them, by their eighth album, 2010's The Big To-Do, to a place where, although their Southern roots are clearly visible, they sound like neither Skynyrd nor the Allmans. The album flows nicely, different band members singing lead on their own songs, highlights including opener Daddy Learned To Fly, the garagey Birthday Boy and slow-burner The Wig He Made Her Wear, making for a most satisfying listen in these days of pseudo-'retro' nonsense from musicians who've only ever experienced anything pre-'90s third-hand. The Truckers added a keyboard player, Jay Gonzalez, to their lineup not long before recording the album, who sticks to Hammond for most of the record, while adding sparse samplotron strings to You Got Another, with several pitchbends thrown in.
Ireland's Dry County have confused the issue heavily by changing their name to Alias Empire, then reissuing 2007's Unexpected Falls under that moniker. Better than Buffalo Nickel's Long Play 33⅓ (to name but one example), I suppose, which was reissued two years later under both a different artist and title... Anyway, Dry County/Alias Empire's album is an overlong, horrible indie/electronica mash-up with no, I repeat, no worthwhile tracks. No, none. Phil Porter is credited with Mellotron, but are those flutes on Another Idea really supposed to be Mellotron? Really? Yeah, right... I suppose they are at least samples, as against 'a vague flute sound we'll call a Mellotron anyway'. New name? Believe me, this wasn't worth reissuing.
Felix "Dubvisionist" Wolter's career began as drummer for Der Moderne Man, before he moved into a more studio-based role, situating himself at the heart of many dub-based projects. 2014's King Size Dub Special!!! seems to be a compilation of sorts, including (remixes of?) material from four of Wolter's past projects, not to mention the better-known TACK>>HEAD and Fettes Brot, although there's no easy way to tell that you're not listening to a single-artist release. To be perfectly honest, attempting to review music in a genre that I know little about and for which I have no affinity is something of a fool's errand. Suffice to say, while this is unlikely to ever be mistaken for genuine JA dub, it seems to do a decent enough job. Günther Janssen is credited with Mellotron, with volume-pedalled strings on The Vision's Soul Dub Evolution, but their veracity has to be called into question, frankly. I can neither recommend this nor the converse; its trippy dub explorations sound perfectly good to my ears, but what do I know?
Duck Sauce are the New York-based duo of Armand Van Helden (even I've heard of him) and Alain "A-Trak" Macklovitch (haven't heard of him, though), whose debut, 2014's Quack, is a bemusing stew of multifarious dance genres, paying homage to the likes of Daft Punk and a host of film soundtracks. Is it any good? I don't feel qualified to judge, to be honest, although it irritated me enough to give it a low star rating. Harsh? Yup. Christoph "Metatron" Fringeli allegedly plays Mellotron on aNYway (no, I'm not having trouble with my caps lock key). Really? Where? I think we can be quite certain that, whatever Mr. Fringeli used, it wasn't a real machine. I think we can also be quite certain that you, assuming you're a Planet Mellotron regular, are not going to like this album any more than I did.
The Duckworth Lewis Method are named for a notoriously obscure scoring method in cricket. What's cricket? The forerunner to baseball, sir! This most English of games has its adherents around the world, almost exclusively members of the British Commonwealth (or ex-empire, if you prefer), with a long and honourable history, bucketloads of tradition and a minor inferiority complex with regard to other bat-and-ball sports.
The reason I'm blathering on about one of my country's Great Games is The Duckworth Lewis Method, the duo's first, eponymous album. Duo? Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy (Northern Irish and thus, technically, British) and our old friend Thomas Walsh of the mighty Pugwash have collaborated on what has to be the world's first (and only) concept album about cricket, tackling many aspects of the game, although I see no obvious references to one of its greatest players, the legendary W.G. Grace. You're slacking, chaps. Musically, it's an unsurprising combination of its two members' main outfits, the baroque Gentlemen And Players and the pseudo-glam rock of The Sweet Spot merging seamlessly with the music hall of Jiggery Pokery, all held together by the ghosts of powerpop past, present and future. The occasional track works less well (The Nightwatchman springs to mind), but there's actually very little wrong with this album, making a very, very pleasant change from the landfills-full of dross that clutter up the contemporary listening environment.
Walsh and Hannon both play supposed Mellotron, with strings on opener The Coin Toss and Rain Stops Play, flutes and strings on Gentlemen And Players, suspiciously speedy strings and, er, something unidentified on Mason On The Boundary, choirs on Flatten The Hay and choir and strings on The End Of The Over, although the strings on a couple of tracks are real. However... Given the revelations regarding Pugwash's sample use, it has to be said that everything here's a little too slick, for want of a better word. Sorry, chaps, samples it is. It's quite possible that there's more samplotronic involvement here, or, in fact, that I've got some of those sightings wrong; it's almost immaterial (he said, standing on rather shaky ground), as the best reason to buy The Duckworth Lewis Method isn't its Mellotron sounds, but the great music contained therein.
Welsh girl Amie Ann Duffy shot to fame in 2007, but her career's beginning to look like it's stalled after 2010's Endlessly. It's a pre-psych '60s-influenced effort, her 'little girl' vocals too high in the mix, in true pop starlet style, the material, production and her bloody voice all universally awful. Someone adds remarkably non-Mellotronic-sounding samplotron flutes to opener My Boy and Hard For The Heart. I wish they hadn't.
Stephen Duffy, later Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy, began his career as a pre-fame co-founder of Duran Duran (oops), going on to achieve solo success (OK, maybe not oops) in the early '80s, before forming the moveable feast otherwise known as The Lilac Time. I've no idea what most of his/their output sounds like, but 2003's Keep Going is, improbably, a country record. Admittedly, country crossed with folk, but still country... The songwriting crosses between the two related genres, too, avoiding the mawkishness of many trad country albums, making for a surprisingly listenable end result. Duffy plays background samplotron strings on The Silence, although you'd barely notice if were they not there.
Although based in the States, the Dumb Numbers collective are led by Australian Adam Harding, notable collaborators including Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr, Sebadoh), Dale Crover (Melvins) and Murph (also Dinosaur Jr). 2016's Dumb Numbers II reminds me, perhaps unsurprisingly, of J. Mascis' outfit, in its combination of crushing guitars and fragile vocals (who said Neil Young?), typified by opener My Mantra and Essence//Existence. Bobb Bruno is credited with Mellotron on Girl On The Screen and No-One, but going by the string sound on the former, not to mention its rather-over-eight-second sustain at the end of the song, that's a 'no'. I wanted to like this more than I did; I'm afraid the album's 'noise' elements have defeated me.
Wikipedia describes Judy Dunaway as 'a conceptual sound artist, avant-garde composer, free improvisor and creator of sound installations who is primarily known for her sound works for latex balloons'. As you do. Her second album, 1993's collaboration with The Evan Gallagher Little Band, features few balloons (honourable exceptions: Squirrels and White), but plenty of mildly 'out-there' art-rock, probably at its best on the amusing PMSLSD ("PMS is my LSD") and the violin-led St. Passion. Incidentally, strange how two adjacent tracks are named Jack and White, years before anyone had heard of The White Stripes' founder. Maybe she knew something. Gallagher is credited with Mellotron. Why, I've no idea.
Dungen's debut, Stadsvandringar, while distinctly promising, largely fails to leap out at you, although the singalong title track and its reprise are probably stuck in my brain permanently. Actually, I'm being a little unfair; this is a really good album, although it pales slightly in comparison to its successor, the blinding Ta det Lugnt. Some background samplotron strings on Har Du Vart' I Stockholm? are the sum total of its Mellotronic input, only just recognisable as such. After a slew of 'Mellotron'-free records, 2015's Allas Sak reintroduces it to the band's sound. The album is (unsurprisingly) a delight, its best tracks clustered towards the end, including Åkt Dit, Flickor Och Pojkar and Sova, although I have no problem with the shorter, (slightly) poppier material earlier on. Band leader Gustav Ejstes adds samplotron to three tracks, with a major polyphonic flute part on En Gång Om Året and strings on Åkt Dit and Sova.
Peter Dunne's Guitars, Sitars & Shangri-las is a contemporary psych album that harks back to the genre's late '60s origins, while managing to sound at least vaguely modern; quite a trick, to be honest. Notable tracks include an interestingly 'lazy', loping version of Day Tripper, the folky The Wizard And The Mystery Girl (mediaeval touches singled out for recommendation) and The Ghost Of Sgt Pepper (which, unsurprisingly, owes a debt to Come Together), other highlights including a capella opener Lenora, Jackdaws and the dreamlike title track. The album's only real downside is Dunne's eclecticism; '50s rock'n'roll pastiche Rock The Ashram and mock-early '60s ballad Dreaming Of You are two of the album's weakest tracks, but that's what programmable CD players are for, isn't it? Plenty of samplotron in evidence, with 'Strawberry Fields'-esque flutes on Jackdaws, a beautifully full-on part on The Wizard And The Mystery Girl, more of the same on The Ghost Of Sgt Pepper and a melodic part on the title track. Much of Guitars, Sitars & Shangri-las is excellent, but I can't help thinking that the album would've been improved had Dunne whittled his material down to an excellent forty minutes or so, rather than a merely good hour. Either way, worth hearing for its best tracks.
Cumbrian Francis Dunnery split It Bites at the peak of their success, moving on briefly to Robert Plant's band before kicking his solo career off with '94's Fearless. Let's Go Do What Happens was his fourth release and I've never been wholly sure about its inclusion on this site, due to its multiple credits for 'Doug Petty and his probable Mellotron'. Upon finally hearing said instrument it turns out to be, of course, samples, with the biggest giveaway coming at the end of opener My Own Reality, with an overly smooth, way over eight-second string chord that doesn't sound anywhere near as gritty as a real Mellotron. As far as the album itself's concerned, it's quite aggressive singer-songwriter fare, by and large, with Dunnery using the stage (so to speak) as a platform for him to air his many grievances about, ooh, just about everything. Mind you, it's difficult to fault the sentiments behind tracks like Revolution or Give Up Your Day Job; I did the latter a few years ago and never looked back, but not everyone can just pack it all in and still get by. So, don't buy this expecting any genuine Mellotron, but it's not a bad album, while the samples are pretty decent.
The Bright Side is an unusually bass-led indie album; sadly, its USP doesn't improve its listenability, along with the terrible vocals. Rod Slaughter plays 'Mellotron' flutes on opener Bitterman and very obviously sampled string arpeggios on Toast To The Life-Long Friends.
I'm not sure how to describe Düreforsög: experimental indie? Progressive punk? Engine Machine contains a myriad of good ideas; unfortunately, the band often use most of them at the same time, whether or not they actually work together. For seventy minutes. I'm sure it'd be possible to make a good album out of this, but someone would have to heavily wield the editing scissors. One Andreas H. is credited with Mellotron, but the choirs on opener Traffix sound sampled.
Dust Galaxy are effectively electronic outfit Thievery Corporation's Rob Garza's solo project, whose sole album to date, his/their eponymous 2007 release, contains a mildly bewildering mixture of psychedelia, indie and 'world' musics. The album (mostly recorded in the UK) features a host of guest musicians, not least several members of Primal Scream, which accounts for the indie rock content, the sitars of River Of Ever Changing Forms sitting slightly uneasily next to the driving rock of Cherubim Sing and Overhead. Brendan Lynch (Paul Weller) plays supposed Mellotron on closer Crying To The Night, with, er, something that might be phased, background choirs. Samples, I say.
Australian country, anyone? David "Slim Dusty" Kirkpatrick (already in his seventies in 2000) successfully applied C&W tropes to his Aussie heritage (or vice versa I suppose), Looking Forward Looking Back covering not only the usual timeworn subjects, but typically Australian subjects such as, well, The Bloke Who Serves The Beer. I've absolutely no idea where Matt Fell's Mellotron (real or otherwise) might be, as it's completely inaudible.
Dusty Trails are the duo of ex-Luscious Jackson (Mellotron users themselves) keyboardist Vivian Trimble and British ex-Breeder Josephine Wiggs. Their sole album to date, Dusty Trails, is faux-easy listening, with a notable South American influence in places. Various songs are sung in French by the wonderful Emmylou Harris, not at all in a European art-flick kind of way... Above all, this is an immensely mellow album, a million miles away from the protagonist's previous outfits. It could be mistaken for pastiche or irony, but it seems to me that both women mean it, although it's impossible to do this kind of stuff these days without at least a knowing, arched eyebrow. Trimble is credited with 'keyboard strings', amongst other things; going by a couple of online interviews I've seen, it appears that the strings (and presumably choir) on Fool For A Country Tune are actually Mellotron, although they sound more like samples to me.
Yves Duteil's career began in the early '70s, 2008's (fr)agiles being his twenty-somethingth album, a decent collection of very French chanson-influenced material, as you might expect from someone of Duteil's vintage. Y'know, there's something terribly appealing about this kind of folky, French-language style, especially when a little pre-war feel (you know, accordions and clarinets) is thrown in for good measure; there isn't actually a bad track here, although the album's appeal outside his middle-aged French audience is probably somewhat limited. Fabrice Ravel-Chapuis is credited with Mellotron on two tracks, although with nothing obvious on Madame Sévilla, the album's entire content is left to a few seconds of 'stabbed', most likely sampled flutes on Elle Ne Dort.
Thomas Dutronc (son of Jacques Dutronc and Françoise Hardy) has taken the jazz route, in a pretty trad (Gallic division) kind of way, singing and playing guitar in the grand tradition. Although in his mid-thirties, 2007's Comme un Manouche Sans Guitare is his first solo album, filled with the kind of late-night jazz you used to be able to hear in Parisian cafés (and maybe still can?), although his band pick up the pace in places, notably on opener Jeune, Je Ne Savais Rien and China Boy, with some frenetic guitar work on the latter. Whatever alleged Mellotron Xavier Bussy may add to Jeune, Je Ne Savais Rien and Je Les Veux Toutes and Frédéric Jaillard to September Song will have to remain a mystery, as it's completely inaudible on all three, although Bussy's faint strings and flute solo appear on N.A.S.D.A.Q. Why is it credited? Is it actually on the other three tracks? What's the point?
If the name's unfamiliar, Judy Dyble was Fairport Convention's first (co-) singer, with Iain Matthews, leaving after one album to hook up with a pre-Crimson Ian McDonald, moving on to Trader Horne before retiring from music. She began singing again in the early 2000s, releasing several albums since 2004. 2010's Fragile three-tracker is wonderfully atmospheric folk/prog, that acts as a good sampler (excuse the pun) of her current direction. Mellotron samples on Sparkling from no lesser a personage than Tim Bowness, with a pretty decent string part and 'harp rolls' (a MkII sound, I believe).
Arizona's Dygmies (who appear to be synonymous with Randy Forte & the Reconstruction) released Chemistry in 2002, a minor powerpop delight, top tracks including opener Chemistry I, the balladic New Sad Song and the propulsive, vaguely Knack-esque She's The One. So why only three stars? I have to admit that I found most of the material slightly samey, while, despite the album only being around three-quarters of an hour long, with fourteen tracks, it slightly outstays its welcome. Someone called Marvin plays fairly obviously sampled Mellotron, with strings and flutes on Behemoth, upfront strings on New Sad Song and Chemistry II and background ones on Through The Door. You can (as I did) listen to the entire album on Soundcloud, but should you do so and like what you hear, I believe it's still available on CD.
Dynamo Bliss' website describes them as a 'Swedish crossover prog band', but, going by their first release of 2013, Poplar Music, they're more pseudo-'70s mainstream pop/rock, admittedly not in a bad way. Examples? Savage Minds and Panic In Their Eyes remind me of the kind of bands that would turn up on The Old Grey Whistle Test around 1977, or songs Steely Dan might bury somewhere on side two of a nonexistent album from '79, although the best material is (surprise, surprise) the proggier stuff, including Can You Hear The Sound, And Forever and the breezy Been Ostracized. Samplotron? Flutes on several tracks, especially upfront in Been Ostracized and closer In The Country. Day & Night, from a few months later, finally triggers a latent memory: Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds. I knew they were reminiscent of something... The homage/pastiche reaches a climax on the instrumental Night Storm, but the influence is clear throughout. Done well, mind, but don't come here expecting full-blown prog. Samplotron flutes again, particularly overt on Evenfall and Night Storm.