Buried deep underneath blankets of wooly southern rock, gritty songwriting and soaring odes to lost love, The Mallett Brothers are entrenched in the dense forests, majestic mountains and icy beaches of their Maine homeland. Their rock ‘n roll resides inside of a weathered and lived-in, rootsy Americana built by brothers Luke and Will Mallett and band. It’s that distinctive sound that’s helped them to share stages with both critical favorites like Drive-By Truckers, Shovels and Rope & The Felice Brothers and legends like Phish drummer and singer Jon Fishman (who will be hopping aboard the band’s spring tour this year), The Allman Brothers, and many more. Their new album, Vive L’Acadie (out June 15), is an ode to all things French-Canadian.
“Vive L’Acadie,” the title track, came out of a David Lynchian trip the band made to Fort Kent, Maine. “We were driving down the road on Main Street,” says Luke. “We turned on the radio and it was playing all these French versions of pop-country songs. It felt like we were in a different world. Later that night, an old man in a bar was yelling “Vive L’Acadie”. Turns out, that’s the Acadian battle cry! The Acadians wound up being Cajun, but they’re a French, Canadian and Irish mix of people that ended up in the woods up north. Their influence is all over Maine. Our grandfather came from Salmon River, Nova Scotia. If you go back up there, there’s a whole cemetery full of Malletts.”
Recorded at Acadia Recording in Portland, the album came in pieces over the course of several months. By last September, they had more than enough songs to sift through, picking ten that would quickly become a vigorous exploration of the band’s heritage and cultural makeup. This is their most rugged collection yet, building off 2017’s concept album, The Falling of the Pine.
The six-piece have had multiple lineup changes and stylistic shifts over the years, occasionally drawing from founding member Luke Mallett’s high school days of being in a hardcore band, then spitting rhymes in his hip-hop collective (he has a particular love of Digable Planets, Gang Starr and Wu Tang), and his brother’s proclivity for tight, blustering rock and bluegrass-tinged guitar playing. Their music stirs feelings of good times even when they are spilling out heartfelt stories and ambitious musical licks. The current lineup of Luke Mallett (vocals/guitar), Will Mallett (vocals/guitar), Nick Leen (bass), Wally Wenzel (dobro/electric guitar/vocals), Chuck Gange (drums) and Andrew Martell (fiddle/guitar/mandolin) is stronger than it has ever been. Each player injects the music with electric precision, as if the sky has been torn open and a string of lightning bolts strike the parched earth.
Glide is proud to premiere “Good As It Gets” (below) a barburner that combines the boogie genius of John Lee Hooker atop the echoing blues guitar romps of Stevie Ray Vaughan. With their dagger chops, The Mallett Brothers reignite the blues flame with their almost unmerciful approach that leaves no dull notes but a fistful of rock and a heartful of lifetime stories atop their stong menu.
“I came up with this one quick-like. Andrew [Martelle, fiddle & mandolin] gave me the first line. It started as a dare and I ran with it–it’s ultimately a song about my wife. She rightfully claims this tune as her own,” says Luke Mallett. “One of the first hooks is ‘love of a good woman is as good as it gets,’ which is a reference to the classic story about temptations of the road and how none of it is as good as what you got back home. It’s a fun rock song with a couple breaks that doesn’t take itself too seriously; I definitely had Z.Z. Top in mind when I was writing it.”