Tales From The Atomic Tambourine
by Pete Crigler on The Daily Vault
On the third album by Charlottesville, VA’s own Kingdom Of Mustang, led by songwriter extraordinaire Mark Roebuck, we find a band that has slowed things down and found its groove. “At the Hi Lo Ha” is a nice, subdued track that will sound really good when live shows really start getting going again. The band stretches their wings a bit on Roebuck’s “Jeannie When You Killed The Stars,” which is one of the album’s main highlights. Musically, a bit more sophisticated, it still packs quite the punch.
“Yesterday’s Blues” is another strong standout. Feels like good ol’ 80s college rock and works really well. But Jesus, the harmonies on “Each Time That You Break Down” are outstanding and turns the track into an exceptional one! This album reminds me of a lot of AM ‘70s pop like Firefall, Orleans, and Seals & Crofts, which is definitely not a bad thing. It’s nice to hear that kind of sound in today’s age, and it doesn’t sound dated or aged.
Those wonderful harmonies come to the forefront again on “Nothing At All.” One of the absolute best tracks the band have done, it works on every conceivable level and leaves the listener wanting more. The album’s closer, “All You Know Is What You Know” is a reverb-drenched track that ends the album in a pretty perfect way. It’s a nice chance to slow dance at a show with a special someone.
If you’re not from Virginia or haven’t heard of this band, give them a chance. This is without a doubt one of the best sounding records of the year and hopefully it won’t be too insane to say that these guys have got a bright future ahead of ’em.
by Mike "Bloody Red" Baron on Pop Geek Heaven
Some composers are immediately identifiable for their song structure, such as Michael Brown (The Left Banke) and Marshall Crenshaw. Mark Roebuck and Tim Ryan are like that. There’s a direct line between Roebuck’s 1979 The Deal, and Kingdom of Mustang, an elegiac masterpiece comparable to Crowded House’s Woodface and Lannie Flowers’ Home. With its lilting, unforgettable melody, “Jeannie When You Killed The Stars” stays with you long after it’s ended. “Yesterday’s Blues” recalls Crenshaw, and Ryan’s mastery of chord structure, alternating major and minor, can be heard on “It’s A Perfect Day.”
by Claire Fullerton on Amazon Music
In Kingdom of Mustang’s Tales from the Atomic Tambourine, melodic harmonies meld seamlessly with pop music sensibilities. A collection of twelve, finely wrought songs arranged to sonorous perfection, the offerings are layered, intelligent, and wonderfully mixed in a clear, balanced dynamic sure to wow everyone from the seasoned musician to the layman listener.
Trading lead vocals, guitar player Mark Roebuck, and Tim Ryan, who brings his talents with bass, guitar, and keyboards to the project, offer something for everyone. Roebuck fans will embrace what they’ve come to expect from him: the moody, nuanced, resonant, searching quality of a voice unpredictable in its ornamentation and rife with the quality of an ageless nostalgia delivered so personally as to seem confessional. In wonderful companionship, Ryan’s husky vocals caress both narrative sides of the figurative sandpaper, knowing precisely when to switch from rough to smooth while remaining all the while accessible.
Highlights for Roebuck devotees are the raucous, delightful, Each Time That You Break Down; the Alex Chilton/Replacementsesque feel of Lemonade and Innocence as only Roebuck can sing it; and the brooding, lyrically cinematic, Railbird Elegy that makes me wish this lyricist would write a novel.
Highlights for Tim Ryan fans are the pleasingly measured Nothing at All; the catchy, skipping Yesterday’s Blues, and the guitar driven, All You Know is What You Know.
Tales From the Atomic Tambourine is a celebration of all that it means to have a firm grasp on musical excellence. This CD is the embodiment of a musical experience at its finest: one part dreamy escapism; one part tutorial in a masterful job well done.