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Review: Abandoned Malls of America - Brushed Gold EP

Photo Cred: Ruth Preston

Hot damn, what an introduction as a new band. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a debut of any kind that hit this hard, right away, with exceptional production and the musical chops to back it up.

Hailing from Cincy, Abandoned Malls of America is helping carry with surety the emo torch so deftly and beautifully held by bands like Scarlet Street (and frankly, I think a night of music with AMOA and Scarlet Street would be insanely good, y’all - let’s make that happen), while really leaning into what makes them a much different band from others under the same umbrella.

At 5 tracks and just over 20 minutes, Brushed Gold sets itself up as an urgently replayable set of songs. Half-timed “Rings and Coins” is about as big as a band can go to start out an album - soaring vocals, driving percussion, perfectly balanced riffs over powerful, precise guitar work. The next 4 tracks all toy with variations on that theme, and all of them are successful at what they set out to accomplish.


“Flak Jacket” is a pulse-pounder, jumping around the pop-punk and emo spectrum just kind of doing whatever it wants - hints of early Brand New meld with current bands like Free Throw, and I even hear a little bit of Prawn in how they add just a touch of off-time, prog-like fun to the track. The slower but equally great “Disbelief” follows, with intensely deft guitar work and big vocals - there are a lot of things happening at once, with everyone going in their own slightly different direction, but it all works together seamlessly.

It’s here I think it’s worth shouting out Eric Tuffendsam at Moonlight Studios in Fairfield, who produced, recorded, mixed, and mastered the EP. It’s a masterclass in how to take a tried and true style of music and make it sound big, fresh, super clean, but just gnarly and heavy enough to stand out. Big kudos to the band and Eric for putting Brushed Gold together so immaculately.

The EP only being 5 tracks is both a blessing and a curse. It works flawlessly as a distillation of and introduction to the band, while also playing so enticingly that you’d really like to hear more of what Abandoned Malls of America is capable of. I, for one, will be waiting anxiously for what comes next while enjoying the hell out of such an awesome and, honestly, surprising debut.

Get the EP right here. Right now.

You can catch the band live this Saturday, opening for Gyasi at Madison Live! We love a two-band bill, and I for one am excited to see what this band can do in a live setting. Check out all the details here.