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The sky's ablaze over Brighton. Heat lightening, knocking the city aglow. A Morphine hum fills the cracks in the sidewalk. The fox at Palace Pier is prowling low, now slipping through fence posts and backyards howling...hearing the music...which way is home?
Brighton, England's Mudlow have a new ep out called Crackling. The last in a series of three EPs and following the Letter To Louise and Minnesota EPs.
I've really dug these collections. They're the perfect length, because Mudlow songs tend to be somewhat cinematic, in depth, vibe, and sonics. Just four songs. Three musicians. You have plenty of time to invest in them at that length. To really listen. Which means there's no room for filler. I'd be happy if they kept on doing EPs. In fact I'd dig it if more bands went this route.
Who has time for seventy-five minutes of music? Do four songs, upload 'em everywhere. Put them out on a thick ten-inch record. A souvenir. That's what people want. A tangible memory of the affair. But I digress about this. Again.
Here's the spiel:
Crackling is a set of four new Mudlow scenes or vignettes as song. I say it every time, Mudlow makes soundtracks waiting for a movie. But here's the thing about this band: They're not a casual listen. I think you kinda gotta get proper old school and actually sit down and listen to the band thru speakers, not ear buds (though that's fine, too) I think you gotta spend some time with them. A glass of whiskey wouldn't hurt (unless it does) and just get lost.
On Crackling, you will take a trip to Mudlow Country. Mudlow consistently do their Mudlow thing. Much like Morphine, Echo & The Bunnymen or Richard Hawley or Waits do theirs. I'm not suggesting Mudlow sound like either...and yet... but rather they are their own thing. They are in the alt-rock-blues-country whatever world, but not of it. This isn't some brit-based Americana wanna-be, either. I may claim Mudlow are their own genre, they're their own thing, yet they are deeply familiar...U.S blues-based rockishness, but with a U.K. pulp novel noir vibe...not quite country, blues, jazz, rock, yet all of these. At once. When it's raining. Downtown. Gritty, rural, yet elegant. Especially when you include their whole catalog, the early work with tough and sometimes haunted Morphine-like saxophone and horn sections.
Mudlow is a terrific (in the true sense of the word) and unique band and they have done their best work here. It's a distillation of the Mudlow sound, poured four fingers deep over three ice cubes on 2017's Crackling.
Let's talk about Mudlow's stylish bassist/ engineer/ producer Paul Pascoe. I can't imagine anyone else recording this band. He's recorded them from the start with Welcome To Mudlow Country to the new Crackling. Pascoe's recordings have always been very tasteful, allowing everything to breath, and giving the band the noir filmic sound it's big salacious heart desires. No instrument overpowers the other. Each is just as important as the other. Like a fist. Like prayer hands. Like the tabletop knife game.
Drummer Matt Latcham is both the knife and the fingers in this equation, stabbing, swinging, but keeping a hand on the table. They're a band that has played together so long they finish each other's musical sentences, each note placed where it should be...on the spot.
The low down::--->
1. Crackling - Car wheels on a rotten paved and gravel road turn with a screech of tire on asphalt headed to anywhere but here. Storm clouds forming, windows down...night is coming on.
2. Bad Hand - A classic english blues, but you wouldn't know it. #Swingit!
3. Caz - Harrowing blues.
4. Red Ribbon - Classic old timey story of trouble, po-lice, and colored lights.
Lyrics for each song on Crackling, provided by Tobias Mudlow, are below:
Crackling: You said you were going to leave, you never got that far, somewhone's going to pay for the damage to my car. When you quit your crying , fetch your things from the yard, that's a heavy horizon, it's a gathering of clouds. You could take another step a little closer to the fire. The skylines alive, with javelins of light, like filaments under glass as they crackle and die, There's clean sheets on the bed, I'll sleep down the hall, some money on the night stand, you could leave after the storm. Or you could take another step a little closer to the fire.
Bad Hand: No warm welcome waiting when your women gets home,X2. Just another old mare, slipping through the fence post, just another old mare. She can't stand me no more. You ought to not let her ride another mans mule,X2. She'll leave you sad and lonely, like a hair lip fool, leave you sad and low. She can't stand me no more. My reason for breathing is leaving on this evenings train,X2. She took off with my best friend, now I see my kids on the weekends, she took off with my best friend. She can't stand me no more. I wound up in an alley on a pallet in the pouring rain,X2. Curled up like a bill fold, I laid my bad hand down, curled up like a bill fold. She can't stand me no more.
Caz: Your momma's calling you Caroline, you been out till 3am, you got boys in the back of your daddy's car, your gonna wake the dog in your back yard. Caroline where the hell have you
Been? Long blond hair and an overcoat, drinking wine and getting loaded, they say some swallows never land? Pop the cap throw back your head. Caroline where the hell have you been? Poor old absent minded Si, they shaved his head when he lost his mind, like the day old J.P. Jumped the river, he got high too fast and fell to quickly. Caroline where the hell have you been???
Red Ribbon: I dropped a little red ribbon down by the roadside, I let diesel soak up in the sand, an old fella over by the gas pump, with a loaded forty five, nickel and pearl grip curled up in his hand, stone cold and a straight back in the sunshine, I feel like the whole world turned numb, my belly sticking to my shirt tails, a cold sweat on my brow, I got a little taste of copper on my tongue. God damn you God Damn why you got to do things that way? I got up this morning , so much trouble now I should have just stayed where I lay. Now I can see the red lights on the hill top, I can see the blue lights on the ridge, somebody must have heard the gunshot, they phoned the police, I guess they told them what I did, Can you hear them banging on my front door, now they're running around the back, somebody's blowing on the bullhorn, telling me to get down, on my knees hands on my head. God damn God damn why you got to do things that way, I woke up this morning, so much trouble now, I think I'll just stay where I lay.....
Here's a special NSK Remix of the track Crackling, along with a remixed instrumental version. Finally, the music of Mudlow has been orchestraed, while keeping and deeping their Mudlowness. They are amazing, powerful, beautiful pieces.