Writing exclusively about your own local music scene can be a stifling experience. Still, you have to pay the bills somehow. You review one band or write about a particular venue and another accuses you of favouritism, you pick one gig to recommend and someone else shouts words like nepotism or clique (though they probably spell it click.) I’m not going to go as far as to reference the biblical “ a prophet is not without honour, except in his hometown” metaphor, but I do think that “familiarity breeds contempt” is not without relevance. So it is always a pleasure when the Muses (thinly disguised as a Minneapolis based PR company) take pity on a broken down scribbler and deliver a much-needed distraction from another continent and a much more appreciative music scene. The fact that the album in question just happens to sound like Tom Waits fronting a Wild and The Innocent… era E-Street Band playing backwards R’n’B tunes in a blender, is merely an added bonus.
It takes only one listen of the first conventional song of the album Everyone is Everyone for me to wonder – for a band with yearly gigging schedule in triple figures and this, their 4th album, following in the wake of some serious tour supports (Imagine Dragons, Maps & Atlases) and much critical acclaim, how have I only just found them? Oh well, no harm no foul, I’m fully on board now.
These 13 tracks explore the themes of contentment, chasing an alternate American Dream, moments of clarity, moments of failure and wanders between sly social commentary and heartfelt and earnest lyrical waxing’s. Musically it is a wonderful hybrid of sounds, as if they have taken the last 40 years of western music and conducted a hideous operation, dissected the patient and then reassembled it again into a wonderful musical chimera, one that you are simultaneously slightly repulsed and confused by but at the same time you find mesmerising and beautiful.
This is high octane rhythm and blues meets garage rock meets funk meets…well anything they feel like from boogie-woogie to an occasional strange late night jazz vibe, psych, pop and grunge, all the time being led into battle by squalling keyboards, acid laced organ and punk-blues piano.
Imagine a world where The MC5 had been made Ministers of Culture, this band would be their thought police.