Mugison (with Bellman Barker)
September 23, 2008
...quite niceland, indeed. It was a night of surprises, not because I expected Mugison and Bellman Barker to suck, but because they were both so good. The original intent behind Rock Club, for me, was to see a lot of shows and maybe someday be able to say something like "The Beatles? Yeah, I saw them in 1961 in the Cavern Club." Get in on the ground floor, you know? Neither of these bands will ever knock the Beatles off of their lofty perch, but I have to say that my $10 ticket was money well spent. Lately I'd been lamenting our not seeing enough local bands so I'm glad we got to see Bellman Barker, in particular.
Mugison is a two person outfit consisting of lead singer Örn Elías Guðmundsson, and some other dude. The other guy could have been Örn's brother, but everyone in Iceland looks like they're related to each other, because they pretty much are. The two of them would gibber in their childlike pidgin tongue, and then Örn would make a quip in English, and then they would launch into some stripped-down White Stripes/ De Stijl style blues-rock. They were very good and you couldn't help but be won over by their endearing nature. They'll be playing Austin City Limits this weekend so perhaps I'll check them out while I'm out there. Sack suggested that we offer up Jumbo Slice's house for Mugison to crash at, without informing him. Mugison, if you're reading this, e-mail us and I'll give you Jumbo's address. He won't mind.
Bellman Barker actually opened things up so I suppose this review is out of order. One rejected title for this one was Blame It On The Bellman Barker, which would have been an homage to the classic ape movie Blame It On the Bellboy. The title was rejected because I looked on IMDB and realized that I was actually thinking of Dunston Checks In. Blame It On Dunston? Dunston Checks In, by the way, is an award-winning documentary about a chimp who hangs out with George Costanza and later rises to become the Chief Financial Officer of Starwood Resorts, Inc.
I stated earlier that Bellman Barker won't surpass the Beatles, but they can probably overtake Wings. As I was listening to them I was trying to place the sound, and I kept coming back to what could be called "intelligent 1970s rock"--you know, sensitive guy music that's not as wimpy as yacht rock--I'm thinking Wings, Badfinger, Kansas, stuff like that. Bellman Barker have lots of cool tempo changes and soaring refrains (go to their MySpace and listen to "Two Bees" for a taste). They tend to be a little too jammy for my tastes and I think they could benefit by shortening and stripping down some of their songs a la Spoon, but you can't argue with their proficiency. These guys are the type of band where every member has been playing his instrument since elementary school, and it shows. We see so much ragged music that you get used to it, until you see someone like Bellman Barker play. Almost like a session band, really. Even the backup vocals were pretty choice.
And lest you think that being compared to Wings is a bad thing, I beg to differ. Back when Mrs Jimbromski and I lived in New York, one of my neighbors posted an anonymous note on my apartment door complaining that I had been playing my music too loud. That didn't bother me so much--it was late and I had the volume up too high--but she added that "[my] taste in music sucked" because the song I was playing at high volume was "Band On The Run." I nearly drafted a long rebuttal defending Wings--I wanted to tape it to the front door of the building--but I thought better of it. Pearls before swine.
A few quick notes on DC9 and then I'm off to Austin. We were able to sit in a booth in the corner and watch the show, which was great. This is the dinner theater atmosphere I've always pined for. The onyl drawback was that it was freezing by the windows.
Anyway, we're all off to Austin, so posting will be sporadic while we're gone, but we'll try to report back on what we see. Two big thumbs up, one for Mugison, and one for Bellman Barker.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Mugison (with Bellman Barker)