Little Muddy,
Mayan Mud
(Shoeless, 2003)

The pictures on the cover give you a clue. They're upside down. Or else the texts are upside down. Either way, you're going to have to turn yourself upside down to appreciate the blues components of this CD, or the jazz, or the swing.

That's the trick with this CD: the band offers some great sounds and then you think, "Damn, it's gone." Gone somewhere. Where did it go? They've turned the good stuff upside down so your head isn't sure where the music went, or if the good stuff was ever there.

Have you guessed this CD isn't my cup of tea? I tried to like it because of the "muddy" reference. I really wanted to like it. I liked the start of "Mayan Mud" but then they lost the rhythm and turned it into a waltz. And I liked the start of "Nitro Burning and Modified," but I don't know where it went. Into some slow jazz space.

If the odd parts were separate, became separate tracks, divvied up into separate spaces, I wouldn't have found it so annoying. And the same goes for most of the tunes here. There are some innovative sounds that I did like, such as "Giant Steps No. 2," which was a good cohesive track. And "Low E Stampede," that one was good all the way through. In these two the band found a middle ground where they could comfortably mix solid techniques with new sounds. Another track that was pretty good was "Magnificent 7 Bossa Nova" and it proved that these guys are really accomplished musicians.

When it worked, they created a style I could get used to. But mixing new blues with old blues as components of the same song just didn't do it for most of the CD.

As an alternative listener, you may find this a valuable CD but it won't do much for traditional blues fans. I wish the band well, but I also wish for a more finished style and a more definitive sound on each track. Leave the old blues alone if you're not going that way and jump on your own bandwagon, wherever that may lead you.

- Rambles
written by Virginia MacIsaac
published 5 June 2004

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