24 October 2012


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My new favorite album comes from one of my favourite bands in the universe. Mudlow, from the English seaside city of Brighton, asked me to write the liner notes for Sawyer's Hope and I was honored to do so.  My notes are below followed by a song by song interpretation.

Thomas Wolfe wrote that  “...our lives are haunted by a Georgia slattern, because a London cut-purse went unhung.”  If that sliver of catholic prose had a soundtrack it would be played by Brighton UK’s Mudlow.

Mudlow plays literate southern music without continent, drifting and fraught with terroir.  It is at once humid, torrid, and familiar; a wholly indecent sound.  It’s the grist, gristle and grit of the hard luck life.  Noir skies meet muddy boots.  The old trouble. 

Tobias plays guitar, howls and sings, winks like Popeye and writes songs.  The stalwart Matt Latcham plays drums, craftsman Paul Pascoe plays bass and records the music.  Sullen sweetheartist Paul Trimble blows the saxophone. 

Named for a particular island off the western edge of downtown South Purgatory, sitting hard by a slow-burning swamp just down the road from the old General Tire factory (long abandoned).  Port-side stands a tough and brazen little burlesque bar, lit like a set from Twin Peaks.  It’s there, downstairs, framed by smoke-rimed red velvet curtains that Mudlow swing their craft. 

They play cool, cruel and criminal, lounged and louched versions of Frank’s Wild Years at The Stooges Funhouse for love-worn ghosts, sinewy butchers and Gutter Twins, as a sway-backed barmaid, mouth full of gold and skin scented of hyssop, serves marked cards and moonshine to lost North Sea sailors, southern kings, and their curs. 

Their music is the soundtrack for a film as yet unimagined, the saxophoned theme to a tempest-tossed and dreamless sleep.  Night hues meet dawn of day in salt air and sea light.  A morphine blues follows a sloe gin waltz. 

Taut, violet-tinged boozy fanfares mingle with mad juke joint hoe-downs.  Foghorned and rainsoaked Waitsian tinklers hear the music the dust makes on the soles of shoes at the bottom of a lurched and half-hidden staircase.  Run until you fall.

A Brighton-By-The Mississippi boogie shakes it down till it stays down.
 A leaf-sprung and primered F150 on a rainslick Hove country road.
 Lights out.  Listening.  No second chances.

Your last call after last call.  A lonely saxophone cries from an empty bridge. Jake-legged and sodden, one arm around your new true-love’s waist.  You got some fight left in you yet.  Roll ‘em!

Ghosts shine darkly with your energy.  Faded howls and ringing bells.
 The chrome groove digs underground.  Cave-like.

Troubles are trawling for good times.
They’ll find them alright.
Down by the boathouse.

Zane Merite.  Queen of something, somewhere south of south Louisiana.  Or Borneo.  Rusted-through boats and bodies, hot tropical rain wails in the blood-colored night sky.

A slow ballroom blues dance spin,
toe properly turned out.

Hooker’s heat and boogie,
the tight Memphis night air.
Don’t get too close to the water.

Soil. It’ll hold it.

Sitting under the power-line giants above the Snake River canyon at full-moon midnight.  The air fairly crackles.  The dirt lit shades of white and black.  Below, along the riverbank, the primal shadows of bodies lit by bonfire sway low to the echo of deep, dank grooves.  Sparks fly, only to be carried by the cool wind as it slips behind the moon which moves its way down the deep, sensual and ancient valley.

Somewhere a back-door slams, unknown voices cross. Blue/white light hypnotizes down the highway.  Footsteps scuffle in the raw heat.  Love spelled wrong, backwards and reborn.

Free Album of Mudlow Odd & Ends & Rareities:

Voluminous Thank-Yous! go to April Fecca, boss/editor for NowThisSound, for being a rubber wall to bounce sentences off, without whom this post wouldn't have been worth a tinker's damn.

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