Monday, May 21, 2012

REVIEW: Mummy Short Arms - Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse

In one of my favorite buddy movies, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, our train-robbing protagonists were accustomed to evading harm or capture at the hands of sheriffs, marshals or detectives hired by the railroads.  Escape simply was taken for granted.  Then, the railroad hired a persistent son-of-a-bitch who didn't give up, who trailed them aggressively and with purpose.   Then followed several scenes when Butch and Kid again discovered that they hadn't shaken their pursuers, and they turned to each other and said "who are these guys?"

No, the point here isn't how many virtual tomatoes we're going to award Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  The point is that in writing about pop music, we're always listening for new sounds. But while there is a lot of really good stuff coming out, it isn't often that several times while listening to a new album I say to myself "who are these guys?"  However, such a moment occurred in my first listen to "Smuggling Cigarettes" by the opening track of  Mummy Short Arms debut LP, Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse.  And the moment was repeated several more times in the course of the album.

So, we'll begin at the beginning, with "Cigarette Smuggling" (which activity, according to the lyrics, was only the 'back up plan') --

The Glasgow band released "Cigarette Smuggling" in May 2011.  In November 2011 they released "Change", which The List rated as the single of the month.  Both of those tracks are among the eleven included in the Scottish psychobilly that comprises Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse.  The album seems to me to be a twisted form of cow punk, filtered through the souls of Captain Beefheart and the Velvet underground (the Americana focus is revealed by the titles of many of the tracks --."Where's The Mortuary", "Rusty Jose", "Whisky Avalanche", "Tom Mix", "Coyote Surprise", and "Searching for A Body").  And all of it is performed with energy and competence, and characterized by James Allan's unique vocals shouted, snarled and moaned over the arrangements.

Here is the smashing single, "Change", which shows that the band is more than capable of staying sufficiently between the lines to pen a pop hit --

Mummy Short Arms is Cameron Findlay (bass), Craig Brown (guitar), Dean McClure (synths), Fraser Gillies (guitar), James Allan (vocals), Stuart Brown (rhythm guitar and percussion), and Gary Pinkerton (drums).  The album is released today on Glasgow's wonderfully named Flowers in the Dustbin label.

I'd share one of my favorite tracks, "Whisky Avalanche", but it isn't available for that purpose yet.  However, here is the album closer, which now has been released as a single: "Silicone Dream" --

Treat yourself to a "who are these guys" moment or two.  Take Old Jack's Windowless Playhouse for a spin.  And remember, cigarette smuggling is only the back up plan.

Flowers in the Dustbin (Website)
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