Music

The Mutts: I Us We You

Tom Useted

Perhaps these puppies should be taken to the pound.


The Mutts

I Us We You

Label: FatCat
US Release Date: 2006-07-25
UK Release Date: 2006-05-22
Amazon
iTunes

If only this whole "mini-album" (FatCat's words) were as wonderful as the title of track seven: "Dead Spit". What a great song title! Indeed, it might be one of the best ever. Never mind that the song itself isn't particularly memorable -- the title gets the attitude across quite nicely.

Yikes, this is one disappointing display of discoid dysentery. When a mini-album is far too much, clearly something not so nice is afoot. When the most uncharacteristic musical moment is the best -- not to mention it's a mere minute in length, right smack dab on TRACK ONE -- well, ouch. But that's precisely how I Us We You works. "Intro" (it's no "Dead Spit" but kudos to the Mutts for their straightforwardness), is a positively pretty little number. Bet the Mutts weren't looking for "pretty", huh? (Who ever heard of a pretty mutt?) But sure enough, it's a gorgeous, sleepy guitar melody, with appropriate rhythm-section restraint. And it's not even ruined by the entry of the singer, Chris Murtagh, who intones a couple lines, and then... it all goes to pot when the band blasts into the first "real" song, "Dog On Dog". Sounds naughty, don'tcha think? Yeah, well, it’s not. Unless predictable, hammered-into-your-head riffs and a noticeable lack of melodic variation are naughty, in which case I Us We You is the naughtiest mini-album ever.

In some ways, this disc is all over the map. The juxtaposition of "Intro" and "Dog On Dog" is one thing (or two), the stomp and handclaps of "C'Mon, Come Up, Come In" is another, and the lumbering "Don't Worry" is still another, and that one's at least a nice break from the fast-paced monotony. But as individual songs, they just don't pack any surprises. Even the best of the worst garage bands (as well as the worst of the best of 'em) provide hooks as well as riffs. The Mutts are all riff, all the time, but they aren't catchy. As if the overly repetitive guitar melodies weren't enough, too often Murtagh sings right along with the guitar, rather than against it ("C'Mon", "Don't Worry"). This technique wears out the riffs' welcome twice as fast, and without any attempt at variation, the songs sink. To make matters worse, the lyrics are just as forgettable. Or maybe it's that the music doesn't complement the lyrics very well. It's probably both.

It's not like there aren't a few moments that seem promising. Certainly "Intro" is the disc's biggest tease, but the title track also has a little something going for it. "I Us We You", the song, rides along on a groove akin to the Stones' "Midnight Rambler", which gives it some character. But the Mutts don't do much with it and they eventually wrap it up with some totally incongruous guitar strumming. And while "Take Yer Pick" boasts the most (sensibly) varied arrangement on the disc, it's another case of the vocal and guitar melodies being attached at the hip, which is a shame since the prominent guitar figure is borderline catchy.

All in all, while this mini-album isn't exactly an unmitigated disaster on purely musical terms, it's also not really worth listening to. Which I suppose is disastrous for the Mutts. Oh well. To the pound with these puppies.

3

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image