The Mumlers: Don’t Throw Me Away

By: Dennis Cook

The Mumlers seem a band capable of anything – meant in the most complimentary sense. Such is the broad, colorful spectrum of sounds and songcraft they’re working with that even just two albums in one gets the sense we’re only seeing the tip of this bobbing, beautiful iceberg. Based in San Jose, CA, this young group generates pop-rock with a through line that hits not only the usual suspects (The Beatles, Kinks, etc) but the wry sophistication of Randy Newman, the cosmic blues-folk of Fred Neil and further back to Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans and the tunesmiths of golden age Tin Pan Alley. Don’t Throw Me Away (released September 8 on Galaxia) buzzes with unmistakable modernity – a conglomeration of cool noises and techniques that could only occur in the 21st century – grounded in much deeper, more cultivated soil redolent of history and the long march of popular song through the 20th century.

Built around a core of swinging percussion, burbling, potent horns and bandleader/singer/songwriter Will Sprott‘s always fascinating voice – a rich sound that swims through heady blues, nuanced phrasing and indie rock indelicacy – The Mumlers’ music is exceedingly likeable out of the gate yet stuffed with riches that unlock as one really tucks in over repeat spins. Each number has a complete, well-carved feel, from the second line sway of “St. James St.” to the snarly, punky, electric organ slathered cry for life in “Coffin Factory” to the ’60s radio fare swoon of “Tangled Up In You” and the title cut, and many other trajectories besides. Depending on the setlist, they could easily open for the Arctic Monkeys or JJ Cale, and be right at home in those disparate worlds. One is starting to get a feel for what constitutes a Mumlers tune but woe to anyone who thinks that notion has any real parameters. As they grow and extend their own listening and playing there’s really no telling what might get pulled into their gravity, which makes for really exciting music.

There’s nothing random about their combinations, which sets them apart from bands that are simply eclectic for the sake of it. With The Mumlers a crazy range of music appears to be fair game to be enthusiastically engaged and manipulated to their ends. And one of the best overriding aspects is the dust and rust in their machinery. Nothing’s too tidy on Don’t Throw Me Away, where soft and low dewy-eyed testaments to love alternate with saucy lines (and the music to match them) like, “Come on down, we have the loosest slots in town.” Playful and heartfelt, The Mumlers sophomore effort confirms the floating promise of the boffo debut (JamBase review) and builds on it in a way that makes one salivate quietly for record number three, four, etc.

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