Blood Pressure: MuteMath Brings Their Energy To Houston
Photo: Max Roper
The music industry is an odd collective of artists, thieves, and suit & tie types that sometimes work great together. However, more often than not, they don’t work well together at all. In a time where there are more independent releases than one can count; it’s cool to see what MuteMath did for their latest album, “Odd Soul.” The New Orleans based band was already in bed with the likes of major label, Warner Bros. Records; meaning that the suit & tie types were already footing the bill for whatever was to come. However, what came after was pure magic from all involved; resulting in the best release by the band to date. At the upcoming Houston Whatever Fest, the band will perform that magic live for all in attendance.
It should be noted that this isn’t an album review as much as it’s just a band review. It’s just hard to ignore the nuts and bolts of what might be the best recent example of a theory I’ve had for years….bands make their best albums when left alone. The best albums, throughout the history of time, have almost all been made when bands are left alone to hang out, write, and vibe off each other. If you think that’s off the mark, the best example I can use would be Rolling Stones’ “Exile On Main Street.” The album was made in France away from the corporate cash of the label, and it was crafted by some guys hanging out and vibing off one another. It’s lightning in a bottle that the Stones will never do again; but it’s easily their best album to date. The same could be said about MuteMath’s “Odd Soul.” Made in the wake of original guitarist Greg Hill’s departure from the band, these guys were allowed to go it as a leaner and meaner machine; ironically without a label rep peering in to see how the money is being spent. For the first time, the group was allowed to lean more on one member’s idea for an album’s direction. What resulted was an album full of more life, more darkness, and more soul than their previous efforts.
In the backdrop of the band’s hometown of New Orleans, recorded at singer Paul Meany’s house; you immediately feel the vibe of the city. Where older albums from MuteMath had more of an electronica vibe, “Old Soul” is peppered with more of an R&B meets blues rock feeling. Tracks like “Prytania,” and the hit “Blood Pressure” really seem to capture the band’s hook filled sound they were known for. But it’s these little jammed out tracks like “Tell Your Heart Heads Up,” “Allies,” and “Walking Paranoia” where this new vibe of Curtis Mayfield funkiness emerges from some white guys dropping some serious soul intertwined with rock n’ roll. Sandwiched between the funk, are sweet little gems like “Sun Ray” and “Calvaries” where it feels like the band really spreads their wings and becomes something stronger than their former selves. It’s truly an album worth checking out before you catch them live.
In the idea of discussing MuteMath in a live setting, I don’t know if I can accurately capture the energy that these guys bring to a live show. I can say that Meany is the first guy I’ve seen do a handstand on top of a keyboard, while the rest of the band jumps and moves more like a Cirque Du Soleil performance than a rock show. The easiest way I can describe their live set, is that it’s like if you’re a child who gets so excited that you have to move. It always feels like the music takes these guys over and they have to jump, dance, do crazy acrobatic maneuvers and generally emote the sounds that they’re making happen. It’s not very often that a band can play large arenas or small clubs, and it feels like the audience is part of the process, but MuteMath somehow figures out how to include the audience and blow them away at every show.
I think you’d be selling yourself short if you missed these guys when they come to town for the Houston Whatever Fest. MuteMath might be one of the last bands going who can make you feel something at their show, while you “get down” to the sounds within. You can still grab tickets for Houston Whatever Fest here, which will also feature the likes of Blonde Redhead, The Hold Steady, Cheap Girls and more; alongside comedy from TJ Miller, Bobcat Goldthwait, Iliza Shlesinger and many more.