Friday, August 11, 2006

Wrinkle Neck Mules and the Walkmen

A number of months ago my girlfiend joined some friends from Richmond, VA at the Iota Club in Arlington to catch a set by Wrinkle Neck Mules, a Richmond favorite starting to make a little national noise. I heard good things about the set -- the words "you would definitely like them" were used -- and today Popmatters has a review of their new LP, Pull the Brake. The album actually came out in March, but they've been on a long Midwest/South tour this summer, with more to follow this fall (including another Iota gig on September 5).

Wrinkle Neck Mules - "Liza" . If the Drive-By Truckers hadn't written "My Sweet Annette", more folks might be hailing these guys as the future of that unnamed genre that slides in somewhere between southern rock and country. But they did, and so the Mules come off here as a somewhat derivative take on an already derivative song. But isn't that the point? Country's few, relatively mild permutations (country-rock, countrypolitan) were initially met with such strong opposition proves it's a music of tradition. Given that, maybe it's better to see the Mules as rootsier -- they trade the trademark Athens jangle of "Annette" for banjos and mandolins -- take on a timeless genre song. Either way, it sure ain't bad, even if the lead singer's voice sounds a little like Jay Farrar on a bad night. It's tale of tragic love and demise is as central to the genre as the trademark shuffle, but (in this reviewer's opinion) the anguish seems a little forced. But that sort of raw emotion and melancholy comes with a little time.

New from the Walkmen...
Some may have read previously about the Walkmen's full album cover of Harry Nilsson's Pussy Cats LP, done with John Lennon during their infamous "lost weekend" where many a Brandy Alexander (Lennon called them "milkshakes") was consumed. The good news is that I found a cut from unreleased album over on Stereogum. It's actually a version of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross", known best for being part of the seminal soundtrack to the film The Harder They Come .

The Walkmen - "Many Rivers to Cross"

*Editor's Note: A young Harry Nilsson bears a strange resemblance to Walkmen lead singer Hamilton Leithauser.

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