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October 2014
Mumblr
"Full Of Snakes
"
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The major takeaway for Mumblr’s new album Full Of Snakes (Fleeting Youth Records) is that it really takes balls to write songs that truly say nothing. As counter intuitive as it may sound, there really is something admirable in using music to not really express all that much. Any jerk with a voice and a few chords can say a whole lot about how their ex is horrible; what really matters is how much of that content is actually worth hearing. And brother, Mumblr has found a way to make saying nothing profound.

On the surface, the album initially sounds like some sort of early 2000’s generic pop-punk; the first song “Got It” opens with that familiar sense of vague, safe anger. It’s very “high school” reminiscent, right off the bat, with lines like “I got it if you want it” and “I’ll invite you to my room.” But as the song closes and we drift into “Sober,” the tone very gradually starts to feel off. It starts to feel a bit weirder, with this sense of reckless abandon that you only hear in a Violent Femmes song. And it’s not that one is true, and the others is not; this album is walking a razor’s edge between the most self-aware of indie post-punk and the obliviousness of adolescent guilty pleasures.

And while that may sound like a chaotic mess, the seventeen-track full-length really is the having-and-eating of one's cake. We get the indulgence of grandiose guitar riffs and over the top shrieks, but with just enough originality in the composition to give it a sense of being slick and even avant-garde. Don’t let the outward sense of crazy abandon fool you - this thing is airtight. And a lot of that can be chalked up to Nick Morrison’s vocals; he brings a real sense of cleverness to the whole thing, in no small part to the fact that he can turn his voice on a dime.

One endlessly fascinating reoccurring theme is the use of repetition in their lyrics, with phrases like the aforementioned “I got it” and “someone’s been sitting in my chair” echoed over and over again, beyond the point of simple parody. It’s that old artistic trope of repeating something until it becomes meaninglessly applied to lyrics, and it’s interesting to hear expressions of youthful angst to become so alien and meaningless.

They take these universal touchstones of adolescences, including the use of “shock” lyrics such as “if God is a woman I’m going to hell” and gleefully drive them into the ground while enjoying the ride. It’s fun, it’s cool, and will leave you thinking more than any other post-punk album in months. And it does so while still being a genuinely fun throwback to a sort of music that you don’t really hear in earnest these days. - Daniel Ludwig

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Album Review: Science & Advice - The Armchairs

Album Review: Science & Advice - The Armchairs

It should be readily apparent to anybody with a working set of eardrums that The Armchairs fall firmly in the same camp as a handful of other 60s-esque pop acts cropping up. But where exactly they draw inspiration from is somewhat more of a mystery, because this certainly isn't the simple pairing of Beatles and Beach Boys that we've come to expect. Instead, we're treated to an odd menagerie of Zombies, Kinks, and earlier, goofier Floyd (you know, before the rest of the band decided not to pickup Syd). This is a slight, but welcome, change of pace, and what's even more welcoming is the way they throw it all together. It seems that most bands, when under these prestigious influences, would either a) condense it all into pure power-pop confectionery or b) partake in the more indulgent qualities of psychedelia, to the point of tedium. The Armchairs manage to land it somewhere right in between, a sweet spot of controlled lunacy.

Opener "Grampa Yells Portents at Strangers" starts things off right with crazily shifting time signatures and vocal harmonies. It kind of feels like four songs in one, which proves representative of the album's feel as a whole; tracks are short, almost fragmented, but still intense and fully realized. If there's any obvious single, it's "Little Sammy Ghetz" which begins and ends with an irresistible interlocking guitar riff that makes it hard not to get some muscles twitching.

But The Armchairs seem to know better than to trifle with too many obvious hooks. Why do it the easy way when you can do it the fun way? This is an album populated by guitars, alternately crunchy and spacey, awesomely analog-sounding synths, and joyous harmonies. But it's also populated by mind-melting freakouts like "What For My Cow Eating There?" and tracks like the forty-nine second punk explosion "Harrison Ford". So, to get to the heart of it, Science & Advice is a record that manages to do all of these things with such panache making the album an impressive debut by the oddball but loveable quartet. You can stream and download the album here or purchase it at Punk Rock Payroll where it will come packaged in a handmade travel pillow - perfect for those partiers who never know where they’ll pass out at. (Cover art by Vincent Finazzo) - Joe Poteracki

 

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