Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Detroit's Hard Rockin' The Muggs Prove That There's Life After Reality TV And Get 'On With The Show'
On With The Show
Review by Nightwatcher
Seen by millions on last fall's Fox TV reality show 'The Next Great American Band', lasting several rounds before being voted off by a non savvy public and clueless judges, on their second album 'On With The Show', Detroit's The Muggs show that once again they are the real deal, in the process coming up with a modern day heavy rock classic.
The 11 self penned tracks which comprise this offering range from the opening slow, moody deep urban blues that is "Motown Blues", long extended guitar work outs such as the 8 minute plus "Never Know Why", hints of classic psychedelia on the title track, to hard driving riff rockers like "Slow Curve", it's safe to call this a diverse, yet remarkably cohesive collection of songs. All performed by a classic power trio who by virtue of their simplicity allow a muscularity which would become diluted if more musicians were added on a regular basis. There is the added piano courtesy of Bobby Emmett III on the slow blues "Curbside Constellation Blues", but other than that it's just the three, rocking their asses off in the proud Motor City tradition.
Written for the most part by guitarist Danny Methric, these are melodic compositions filled with light and shade elements gleaned from Led Zeppelin. There's enough of that band's sturm und drang to cite them as being an influence, but what it all boils down to is that this is one serious, hard rocking band in the classic mold. Methric shows off just enough to please the guitar fanatics, but it's rarely showboaty, fitting the song even while taking off towards the cosmos. One of the best around these days, in the early to mid 70's, this talented player would be undoubtedly ranked among Jimmy Page, Leslie West and Jim McCarty of Cactus as one of the masters. This is stadium styled rock played in small clubs, more fitting of being purveyed over large expanses of Astroturf than in sweaty hot bars.
What's particularly impressive on this release is the fact that the band has managed to keep the same elements of their sound intact, that of heavy blues influenced rock, while at the same time expanding their sound. There's still plenty of tasty hard rock on display with tons of molten hot fretwork from Danny Methric, but there are also more British influences cropping up. Beatlesque harmonies pop up on the previously mentioned title track, even double tracked guitars here and there ala Wishbone Ash or early Allman Brothers. A lifelong Beatles fan, it's no surprise that Methric would introduce more of the influence of that band, and I'm happy to say that they do it up right without being power pop. All the while underpinned by what can be considered one of the best rhythm sections in modern rock.
Bassist Tony DeNardo and drummer Matt Rost lay down a thundering groove, interplay and back beat not too far removed from say Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Even more amazing when you consider that DeNardo is not playing on a bass, but lines on a Fender Rhodes keyboard ala Ray Manzarek of The Doors, with only one arm due to a narrow brush with death a half decade back after suffering a hemorrhagic stroke which has left his right hand paralyzed.
It's a strong indication of the myopic view of the industry that a band this great remains unsigned. If a band this talented had come out in the early 70's, they'd be lauded as legends today with the likes of Mountain,The James Gang, Cactus and Grand Funk Railroad amongst others. As it is, with this offering the self called "Ugliest Band In The World" have gone a long way in cementing their status as one of Detroit's finest of all time. No small feat when you consider that Detroit has unleashed some of the most primal rock ever in the history of rock, such as the The Stooges, MC5, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent's Amboy Dukes and even the original Alice Cooper Group, who although starting out in Phoenix and L.A., rose to fame after slugging it out in the Detroit scene.
The bottom line here is that if you're a fan of heavy blues rock as played in the early 70's tradition, this is a must have. Meant to be listened to from start to finish, filled with 11 slabs of blues-rock majesty, the band have not only avoided the dreaded sophomore jinx, but have come up with one of the albums of the year. As bassist DeNardo says of appearing on TV, "People didn't see the real Muggs and had no idea because TV can paint you in any vein they want". Come join The Muggs' show, and hear what this band is truly capable of. If you're an aficionado of real rock played by extremely talented musicians, you owe it to yourself to pick this one up. 10/10