Heartbreaking Bravery

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Tag: Bob Buckstaff

Mutts – Black Ties & Diamonds (Song Premiere)

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Chicago trio Mutts have been steadily building a deeply impressive resume for over five years. Each time the band steps up to the plate, they improve on their previous best- leaving 2013’s extraordinary (acoustic-based) Object Permanence as their current high-water mark. As unlikely as it seems considering Object Permanence‘s unfailing grace, the record they’re about to release- Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4– may surpass it to take up the mantle of career-best. “Everyone Is Everyone” kicked off the pre-release roll-out for Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4 in exhilarating fashion with bandleader Mike Maimone passionately dismantling the politics of negative slurs- a stance that takes on a much more personal meaning considering Maimone spent the last few records grappling with the anxieties and emotional releases that accompanied his decision to come out.

“Black Ties & Diamonds” may not be as fiery as its predecessor but it’s just as- if not more- immediately gripping. Easily the band’s most atmospheric moment to date, “Black Ties & Diamonds” is as fire-and-brimstone as it is smoky haze, a classically noir-ish retreat down a murky riverbank. It’s an entirely new look for Mutts and one that suits them so naturally that it’s easy to forget their standard mode is blistering blues-infused noise-punk. As always, Maimone’s lyrics and keyboard work are just as sharp as Mutts’ rhythm section (which is made up of drummer Chris Pagnani and bassist Bob Buckstaff, respectively)- adding to their easily posited claim as one of the tightest units in the upper Midwest.

In lyric copy, “Black Ties & Diamonds” becomes a total deconstruction of a myriad of events, eventually revealing itself as a collection of vignettes that illustrate the trials of life’s overwhelmingly mundane nature. There’s a melancholic nature permeating throughout the track, accentuated by organ stabs, mood-heavy drumming, and frighteningly intuitive bass work. Musically, this veers far closer to the realms of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds than the usually inevitable Tom Waits comparison the band’s so frequently earned in the past. It’s a complete anomaly in the band’s catalog; a minor headphones track in a sea of turned-to-11 explosives.

Production-wise, “Black Ties & Diamonds is the best Mutts have ever sounded electric- something that holds true for the rest of Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4. This is a record that’s layered, sequenced, and mastered to perfection, with “Black Ties & Diamonds” standing out as the definitive track. Mutts aren’t done experimenting, moving forward, challenging themselves, or progressing. Not by a damn sight. “Black Ties & Diamonds” cements this as inexorable proof in stunning fashion, playing directly into the commendable ethics of one of America’s hardest-working bands. Don’t be too surprised to see their name starting to fight its way into regular conversation- and don’t make the mistake of ignoring something as subtly haunting as “Black Ties & Diamonds”.

Mutts will be throwing an LP release party for Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4 which will be presented by Gapers Block and feature additional performances from Archie Powell & the ExportsThe Kickback, and Pop Goes The Evil. This will take place on December 6 at The Metro. 8 pm. $12 at the door and $8 in advance. Don’t make the mistake of missing this one.

Stream “Black Ties & Diamonds” below and make sure to pick up Fuel Yer Delusion vol. 4 as soon as possible.

Mutts – Everyone is Everyone (Lyric Video)

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Noisy blues-punk trio Mutts have had a very peculiar career trajectory. Building up a healthy amount of support in their hometown of Chicago while winning over countless others on the back of a relentless tour schedule, they’ve become another reason to celebrate the Midwest. Releasing a full-length a year since 2011’s Pray for Rain, they’ve managed to sustain an astoundingly prolific pace without losing any of their impact or hindering a natural musical progression. As a result, their last effort- 2013’s Object Permanence– wound up being their strongest (and bravest) release to date. A lot of Mutts’ recent material has hinged on pianist/vocalist Mike Maimone’s decision to come out, rendering a lot of the band’s lyrics devastatingly intimate and intensely personal. While their upcoming Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4 may shy away from the early Tom Waits lounge-stylings of Object Permanence, the lyrical (and musical) aggression of the band’s earlier works are given a fierce emphasis.

That retained fierceness is probably most evident on the ragged, confrontational “Everyone Is Everyone”, which features Maimone tearing into the politics of equality and derogatory terminology with everything in his arsenal. As always, the rhythm section of Bob Buckstaff and Chris Pagnani prove that they’re one of the more formidable tandems in music. While it’s not a surprise that “Everyone Is Everyone” is a monstrous slice of revved-up blues-indebted noise-punk, what is interesting to note is the psychedelic strain that courses through the song’s veins. It’s a particular influence that’s been ingrained into the Mutts’ DNA for some time but this is the first time that it’s been displayed so prominently. That psychedelic influence helps define Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4 and is an incredibly natural fit for the band, who will be self-releasing that record on December 9- and they’ll be having a Gapers Block-presented party a few days beforehand to celebrate the release. Before all of that madness kicks in, though, it’s well worth taking a few moments to give some attention to the brilliantly designed lyric video for “Everyone Is Everyone”- a video that definitively showcases Mutts as a band unafraid to say what’s on their mind, in as powerful of a way as they possibly can.

Watch “Everyone Is Everyone” below and be sure to pre-order Fuel Yer Delusion, Vol. 4 from Mutts’ bandcamp.

Mutts and Buffalo Moon Release Music Videos, Get People Dancing

This week saw two of the Upper Midwest’s best fringe bands release music videos, both of which include dancing. First came Chicago, IL band Mutts’ DIY slacker-goofball video for “Pickpocket”, which was an incredibly welcome and lighthearted affair following their absolutely stunning music video for “Prizefighter”. Both “Pickpocket” and “Prizefighter” were taken from the band’s extraordinary career high-point, 2013’s Object Permanence.

After Mutts unleashed “Pickpocket” on the world, Minneapolis, MN band Buffalo Moon unveiled the impressive music video for the first single (and title track) from their upcoming Machista. Buffalo Moon have been relatively quiet since the release of 2011’s Selva Surreal, playing a handful of dates whenever (and wherever) they could manage. Like Mutts in their most recent acoustic form, Buffalo Moon have frequently flirted with the basement punk scene. While both are capable of delivering full-blown post-punk (look at Mutts’ first three full-lengths for proof and check either band out live), it’s always nice to have some variety. Both Buffalo Moon and Mutts are continuing to deliver in full. Watch the videos for “Pickpocket” and “Machista” below.