Without any retro accoutrements, San Jose's Mumlers draw upon classic acoustic Americana (no Gram Parsons or Uncle Tupelo here, sorry) for their cozy, out-of-time style. Superficially the Mumlers (using banjo, horns, glockenspiel, ukulele, along with standard rock instrumentation) resemble Tom Waits' ramshackle, battered-fractured approach, but there's a lot more to their equation.
Echoes of the Band's Music from Big Pink, Dylan's early gone-electric period, and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band can be heard wafting through their songs, but the Mumlers aren't overly obvious about it. In fact, restraint is their strong suit, never going the "aren't we so clever 'n' quirky" or lo-fi-for-its-own-sake routes. They don't limit themselves — "Raise the Blinds," with its N'awlins chugging rhythm, has flickering passages for flute and horns recalling Duke Ellington's orchestral exotica. The nifty melodramatic instrumental "Soot-Black Suit" sounds like a savvy Salvation Army Band playing cool 1960s soundtrack music from Westerns (first half) and James Bond movies (second half). Further, the Mumlers draw upon an aspect of "Americana" sometimes overlooked, namely soul/rhythm & blues. The swaggering, organ-driven "Coffin Factory" (evoking Eric Burdon & the Animals) and the plaintive title tune are rich with sultry Southern soul (Al Green, Eddie Floyd), Will Sprott's understated, slightly rough-hewn vocals conveying a genuine sense of weary, aching desire.
Don't Throw Me Away is accomplished without being slick, chilled-out without being lethargic. Two thumbs up. (Galaxia)
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