Mutts is a three-piece rock outfit out of Chicago, who just released their first LP, Pray For Rain. After several spins, it’s clear that the band is appropriately named. Bits of heavy metal, blues, rag time and grunge mark this album, which was released in mid-December. Like a good mutt, Mutts exhibits the best characteristics of these genres and seem to revel in their eclectic influences.
The band is led by Mike Maimone (vocals, keys) and Bob Buckstaff (bass, drums) with drummer Mike Ortiz rounding out the current edition of Mutts. Maimone’s raspy vocals draw comparisons to Tom Waits and Joe Cocker. He rails on the opener, Fool. On Save Us he screams above an absolute metal bomber that recalls early 70s Black Sabbath and Danzig with fuzzy bass and ominous piano chords. The jubilant rag opening of Putting On A Show gives way to a slow churning psychedelic groove that whips into a frenzy. Not Ready is bouncy blues number that plays like Iron Butterfly after a couple of Red Bull and vodkas.
Mutts seems most comfortable mixing blues heavy grooves within hard rock compositions. Piano-bar pounders, D.O.B. and Real Bright, exemplify this style, but other tracks demonstrate roots in funk and jazz. Throwback is a funky B-3 shaker with lots of Big Muff distortion on guitars. Done It Again is a rambling bar ballad that is heir to Waits’ Heart of Saturday Night. Throughout the album, it is clear that the Maimone and Buckstaff are having a lot of fun, and are happy to take the rest of us along for the ride.
Pray For Rain is available on Bandcamp, where you can pay what you like for it. You can also pick up their three EP releases there too. Mutts has a limited run of CDs that include a fold-out poster featuring cover photography by Lisa Victoria Geisler on one side and hand-written liner notes on the other. You can pick that up for $9 here.
Done It Again [mp3]
Real Bright [mp3]
Purchase/Stream: Pray For Rain