Alt rockers Mutemath stay true to New Orleans roots

Eli Watson

New Orleans rock collective Mutemath has done what many other artists have failed to do: stick to their roots. Remaining true to their jazz-laced, groove-driven breed of alternative rock, Mutemath returns with a strong, well-rounded delivery with Odd Soul.

From the very beginning, Odd Soul is a locomotive fueled by a near-perfect combination of Jimi Hendrix-influenced guitar riffs and Mitch Mitchell-esque drumming. The album is similar to Hendrix’s Are You Experienced in the way that the creativity is constantly flowing and there is an underlying cohesiveness that keeps every blues-laced chord progression and drum fill intact.

The title song opens with a 1960s swagger that exudes groove. Vocalist Paul Meany sings “I’m an odd soul” over hard riffs sprinkled with Clapton-like bravado. “Blood Pressure” begins with a calming xylophone, but its soft and resonated sound is then struck down by screeching guitar from Todd Gummerman. The bluesy shuffle provided by drummer Darren King pulsates with merciless tom hits and lightning-fast drum fills, each cymbal hit coinciding with a hard strum from Gummerman.

New Orleans is a city of music. From the ragtime compositions of Dixieland trumpeter Louis Armstrong to the southern hip-hop sounds of Master P, New Orleans has a diverse music scene that is kept alive by bands like Mutemath. The group’s music is like a New Orleans brass band in that every song marches on with conviction and pride, striking the hearts of many like the artists before them.

Some songs are reminiscent of the days of Detroit and Motown Records (“Cavalries” moves like Stevie Wonder’s “Do I Do” during the bridge, but with a dash of Cream psychedelia), while others deliver with a rock ‘n’ roll attitude that reflects classic act Rolling Stones (“One More” begins like the Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil” with its tribal sounds and primitive atmosphere).

The strength of the album is in its structure. It remains coherent largely because of the fact that each song segues into one another, the transitions smooth and powered by the band’s unyielding intensity. The only real complaint is the final song “In No Time,” which picks up momentum halfway through but strays from the album’s psychedelic path.

Overall, the band keeps things intact while also displaying a level of musicianship that has become much more cohesive since their previous album, Armistice.

Odd Soul is a testament to the work of Hendrix, Clapton, Armstrong and many other musicians considered legends. It is an album that shows Mutemath’s ability to emulate their influences and apply their own musical backgrounds, resulting in a strong album that is fresh, lively and different.
Blood Pressure by MuteMath

Printed on October 6, 2011 as: New Orleanspbased band sticks to blues roots in recent album