Mutemath: Armistice

RIYL: Power Station, Wire Train, Gomez

When the members of New Orleans-based rock band Mutemath were beating their heads against the wall with the new material they had written as the follow-up to their stellar 2006 debut, the band almost broke up. The songs just were missing something, and they all knew it. Instead of channeling their energy into a bitter divorce, though, Mutemath enlisted the help of producer Dennis Herring (Modest Mouse, The Hives, Elvis Costello), who told them to start over again and write some new stuff. They did, but they did so with an angry passion they lacked before the near-breakup, and the result is a powerful set of new tunes called Armistice. Singer Paul Meany may be one of the best rock vocalists you know nothing about, but that should hopefully change with this groundbreaking album. Right from the start with “The Nerve,” Meany and his band mates symbolically pay tribute to their own rebirth, with the gang vocal chorus shouting, “Set it on fire!” The layers of guitars and strings, slapping bass and tasty drums all mesh well with Meany’s vocals in a way few bands manage to these days. But just like the band’s debut, Armistice has twists and turns and variations in style and texture – especially on the electro-funk of “Backfire” or the title track to the alt-pop beauty of “Pins and Needles” or “Goodbye” to the Goo Goo Dolls-ish “Lost Year.” Whether or not the band does feel like it lost a year, they sure did gain back their self-respect and have delivered one of the best rock records of the year. (Warner Brothers 2009)

Mutemath MySpace page


Eric Hutchinson: Sounds Like This

Sometimes a record company, you know, steps in it. Because breaking new artists these days has become practically foreign to major labels, it sometimes takes a stroke of luck, or in the case of pop singer and songwriter Eric Hutchinson, the stroke of a buddy’s computer keyboard. Hutchinson, whose infectious, R&B-laced pop runs in the same musical circles as Gavin DeGraw and Maroon 5, was signed to Maverick Records before parent company Warner Brothers closed Maverick’s doors, leaving this talented dude with a sparkling product and no label to pimp it. But not to worry, he kept touring and then found overnight success when a high school buddy e-mailed a link to Eric’s music to celebrity gossip dude Perez Hilton. Just like that, Hutchinson went from no-name to peaking at #5 on the iTunes album chart, making him the highest charting unsigned act in the digital age. It’s no fluke, either. Sounds Like This, originally released on Hutchinson’s aptly titled Let’s Break Records, is just dripping with hooks, especially on the incredibly upbeat and soulful “You Don’t Have to Believe Me” and on “Rock & Roll,” the kind of track Jason Mraz wishes he could write. But even when Hutchinson brings down the volume, as he does on “Food Chain,” he can’t help but put you in a good mood. (Warner Bros./Let’s Break)

Eric Hutchinson MySpace Page