The Mammals

Departure (Signature Sound)

SXSW Records

The Mammals

Departure (Signature Sounds)

Formed in 2001, this Woodstock, N.Y.-based quintet quickly established themselves on the folk festival circuit with energetic live performances. With Pete Seeger's grandson Tao Rodriguez-Seeger and fiddler Jay Ungar's daughter Ruth Ungar on board, the Mammals' traditionalist folk leanings make perfect historical sense. For Departure, the quintet's third disc, they attempt to bring the language and acoustic instrumentation of those leanings in line with electrified allusions of Americana-flavored pop. Unfortunately, the end result compromises the strengths of both forms. While the Mammals' multi-instrumental musicianship is solid-state, the songwriting is hit and miss. Michael Merenda's "Follow Me to Carthage" is a finely-worded indictment of American political complacency with a good hook to boot, but the other would-be anti-war anthem, "Alone on the Homestead," overreaches in its attempt to nail the Middle American zeitgeist. Likewise, "Kiss the Break of Day" travels the well-worn "discovering the real America" tangent in a superficial manner that fails to yield any real insight. Cover versions of Morphine's "Do Not Go Quietly Unto Your Grave" and Nirvana's "Come As You Are" make for interesting reinterpretations. The first thing that jumps out about the latter is how much better Kurt Cobain's lyric is than anything else here. (Thursday, March 16, 1am @ B.D. Riley's)

**

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