Louder Than Dirt,Thicker Than Mud!
The Mulchmen's highly-acclaimed first full-length
album! Featuring crowd favorites like "Frank" and "Flippin' Out" as
well as the bizarre, theremin-laced "Sci-Fi Voodoo" and the humorously rocking Link Wray cover
@MUSIC (BACKBEAT ON-LINE)
On my favorite track, "Bonfire Serenade", the band takes you back to the days of dances and proms in high school gymnasiums, slow-dancing with your best boy/girl. Somehow, the song even captures the empty acoustic feeling of a decorated gym while retaining the power and fullness of a studio recording. My congratulations go to producers Gregg Spence and Andy Valeri for pulling this off. The set starts off with three down-home surf/rockabilly scorchers that don't miss a beat. You barely catch your breath until you hit "Swivel Hipster Shake". I can just see Dean Martin coming into a room as Matt Helm to the strains of this track. Not to be outdone by their ability to rock, the band cranks it down a notch with the song "Frank" with it's repetitive, but not boring guitar riffs.
While other reviewers suggest that The Mulchmen's music could be found perfectly at home in a David Lynch or Quentin Tarantino production, I look at it from another viewpoint. Too many late nights make me believe that this music would also be home in just about any Troma Production flick. And that is meant as a compliment. To me, the best stuff about Troma flicks are the soundtracks and I can see The Mulchmen soundtrack with great surf/dance music for the obligatory Troma beach/dance scene and the darker stuff while the villain stalks the victims. I will agree, though that the song "Sci Fi Voodoo" practically begs a call from David Lynch or Chris Carter. Picture an eerie, fog-filled scene, coupled with the semi-sinister characters that populate Twin Peaks or the X-Files and you have just found the perfect backdrop with this song, all topped off by the wail of a theremin. If you don't know what a theremin is, take a listen and you'll recognize it immediately (as a hint, I had trouble not screaming "Give Me Monster Life!")... Not to linger in the darker sides of the psyche, the band breaks back on top with "Chiwawah!" which pushes the adrenalin level way up, while the next track "Number 99" makes you reminisce about Barbara Feldman...
All in all, an excellent addition to anyone's surf/instrumental library... It will be interesting to see where the band takes this genre.
SNAKE EYES - This track is a pretty cool tribal rhythm track with a simple but effective melody, and a primal ethic. While not remarkable, it is quite nice with it's raw slow burn energy.
DIRTY WHITE COLLAR - Ah yes, a song about ring around the collar...a sort of white collar version of a blue collar plague. Not very melodic, and a bit faster paced. It is a fun track. Big chords and a taste of ominosity.
SWIVEL HIPSTER SHAKE - Dissonant edginess, chords and a simple melody. The chords leave you with a nervous edginess, and that seems like a nice change. Not as nerve wracking as Armageddon's Buzzard, but still it grates on the nerves - cool.
FLIPPIN' OUT - What a nifty track. The basis is a simple progression, but there's just enough noodling guitar licks and the like to keep it afloat.
SCI FI VOODOO - Ringing chords, slow deliberate pace, vibrato lead, extra sad melody line, and moodiness deluxe. Very nice track.
CHIWAWAH! - So, is this the way a boy from Dayton, Ohio spells Chihuahua? Not significant I suppose. No Spanish feel here, but it's delicate damped notes and changes to big guitar and drum rants is quite tasty. Great track.
BUSTIN' GOLFCLUBS - Great title. I expected some peon to Bustin' Surfboards, but alas, it wasn't to be. It's a groany number with a cool little riff. I usually dislike such repetitious numbers, but this seems to work just fine.
BONFIRE SERENADE - Ah, now this is nice. The gentle rimshots, the serene melody and guitar tones, the relaxed pace are all nice. There seems to be some problem with the bass resonating (eq or cabinet noise maybe), but it's a very pretty number, not in the Aqua Velvets or Richie Podolar way, but in a garage last dance at the prom way. Very nice.
A MAN WITH NO REVERB IS NO MAN AT ALL - Well, who can argue with the title... A pretty cool song, nicely written and structured. The mid tempo gentility of it is soothing without being background. I like this track.
RUMBLE 3000 - Having just seen Link Wray, the inspiration isn't lost on me. The electronic warbling is pretty cool. The Linkster doesn't play it this laid back, of course, but then that adds a whole other dimension. Best Link cover in awhile.
BRIDGE OF DEATH - Holy speed, Bad Man! This just starts, stays, then finishes - fast. A really interesting next step from the Dick Dale noodle factory filigree thing. Quite different than the rest of the CD, with it's rockabilly feel and it's intensity. - Phil Dirt
In my review of The Mulchmen's 7"; EP, "All The News That's Fit To Surf", I said they followed just enough of the rules to be considered trad. Yeah, well the rule book is now in the shredder basket and they're throwin' in a match. The Mulchmen don't get fancy when they play their brand of surf/spy/punk. Where another band might throw fifty machine-gun notes to kick you along, The Mulchmen use sparse arrangements and empty spaces to build drama and tension and send you into free fall. Each song consists of several diverse segments, strung together in a most satisfying way, with Nick Kizirnis' guitar sounding mean and foreboding one moment and Carl Wilson-jangly the next. And that puts The Mulchmen in their own category. Brian Hogarth (bass) and Gregg Spence (drums) never try to grandstand, opting instead to trade flash for simplicity and power, giving Kizirnis all the room he needs to weave a spell with guitar or theremin. This is dangerous, eyes-closed, head-swaying brain music, and that's the best kind. Just as the rule book bursts into flames, The Mulchmen launch into the high octane intro to "Bridge Of Death", sounding for all the world like a traditional surf band. But in the final moments of that final track, Spence and Hogarth jump into a boogie-lock reminiscent of Rik Lee and Leo Lyons (Ten Years After) as Kizirnis goes stark raving bonkers on the theremin.
It seems only proper that "Louder Than Dirt, Thicker Than Mud" should reach meltdown rather than simply end.
ZENTERTAINMENT / MARKPRINDLE.COM
SHAKIN' FEVER (Belgium)