The Mutts

By Vernon Crane

It isn't that The Mutts are bad at what they do or that what they do is bad within itself, maybe it's just a case of overkill. There are a lot of bands like The Mutts around at the moment: scuzzy, howling garage rock with grungy guitar, thudding basslines and hoarse, shouty vocalists, amped up, cranked up, bug eyed and fuzzed out, with a sound pitched somewhere between the Ramones and The Stooges' Funhouse.

The Mutts natural environment is venues of this size, where everybody is pressed up to the stage and there's no getting away from the sound. As a live proposition they're good, undemanding fun. It's a short set in which the individual songs largely blur together, 30 minutes or so of intensive riffing and flailing, then they're off. Oddly, the most charismatic stage figure, and pretty much the motor of the band is the drummer who really seems to be having a great time and, as a bonus, comes up with some naggingly groovy drum patterns to boot. The overly mannered vocalist suffers in a bit in comparison. When he disappears off stage into the audience during the final number it's a bit of a relief to see the other guys, all perfectly charming fellows, especially the gooney guitarist, getting into their stride. Heads nod, a lone stagediver attempts to surf the crowd, everybody has a good enough time, no one goes home feeling cheated.

A refreshing, moderately invigorating blast of blues-punk, but somehow, for a really wild evening out, The Mutts are going to have to push themselves out that little bit further, fuck with the template a bit more, incorporate a little more into the mix. Bands like The Birthday Party and Pussy Galore managed to blast some new sonic shrapnel out of garage rock's rusty old arse, The Mutt's take is pretty straight, perhaps a little too reverent.

If you like Kings Of Leon, if you like The White Stripes, if you like The Hives, if you like Hot Hot Heat, in other words if you're an XFM listener, or if you fancy a change from gazing intently at eggheads with laptops then go and see them, you won't be disappointed. If you've enjoyed seeing GG Allin, Oxbow or Black Dice, maybe you will be. At the moment they're a kind of musical Ronseal, they do exactly what it says on the can, but they're also a young band and maybe their garage puritanism will eventually lead them in the same exploratory direction that's proved so sonically fruitful for fellow Brightoners, The Eighties B-Line Matchbox Disaster.
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