Resonating Mutts: the Pray For Rain LP
Serendipitous music: that’s what I say I want, as if you can put a microphone within fifteen feet of a speaker and suddenly have the magic of CD level crisp, distinct and distinguishing sound. But that’s how I want it to feel. I think the actual goal is resonance. Resonance is what happens when you play the string of one guitar and the similar string of another guitar in the room hums sympathetically without being touched. So, what happens when people hear organic sounds, human sounds, sounds let’s call raw? We resonate. These sounds ring a similar bell somewhere inside us and we hummm.
The Mutts’s third release Pray For Rain resonates. How do they do it? The Mutts deliver meaty tone by the bucketful--human, organic tone with rusty edges and raw buzz. Pray For Rain trades in sticky chunks of swaggering piano chording, Wurlitzer licks hot-miked flat on the speaker, throbbing tom rolls, thick stand-up bass, and a choir of barks and yelps throughout. (The liner notes actually credit someone named Lucy for these specific vocal contributions.)
Moments in Pray For Rain have a dirge-like poetry to them. “Save Us” begins when maxed out vox cut in over a bowed stand-up bass. Then waves of Leslie Choral noise build so that the song appears to be constructed atop growing, roiling waves of emotion. This is the school of Tom Waites, the White Stripes, the Civil Wars, and the Black Keys. Mike Maimone’s lyrics got meat to ‘em, with the torn edges of free-form poetry a-la Captain Beefheart flapping like a sail, harkening out to the recent thrusts of spoken word bands like Listener and Adam Gnade. In a cut from “D.O.B.” Maimone rumbles:
They got cameras in the sky/ collecting on the damage/ Then they televise the suspect/ the lowly savage/ Like some preachers critiquing/ strip teases at peep shows.
Unexpected moments are puzzle-pieced contiguously throughout PFR, like the “Show of the Century” interlude which, in the second to last song, re-invents the album as a gratuitous carnival; the track brings out the circus element in Maimone’s characters and voices shouting, brawling, and triumphing throughout the album. The Mutts’s music has been called lo-fi: a massive understatement and a tip of the hat to how easy they make it seem. Theirs is a rich, actual-instrument, pop inflected sound that’s as full, fresh and interesting as any digital synth noises.
Ragged and raw is a great way to start to describe the Mutts's warm and atonal form of badass bluesy rock and roll with rollicking dirty piano rolls, fat stand-up bass, fuzzy-filthy guitars, and heavy, jubilant drums. Maybe rich, grimy, or explosive would work too, but with so many angles—so many stories, so many tones and sounds—ragged, raw, explosive, all these words are just a taste, a first-bite, a start to describing something so human. Give it a listen, put it on the speakers, stand in the room, hum.
Here's an older clip of the crew playing in Chicago:
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