The Gospel Accordion II


HTS Recordings, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I don't believe it's any secret that I work with publicists when it comes to getting new groups reviewed on "The Daily Vault". Often, these discs come generally unsolicited, meaning I have a wonderful field of dreams to wade through each week (as well as the occasional landmine).

I got talking with the publicist for Mulehead, an Arkansas-based four piece whose blend of honky-tonk raucous rock is similar to a few groups on the market today. As he was describing the band in an effort to get me to listen to the disc, he mentioned the way they mix humor with their music. Ah, I said, kind of like The Bottle Rockets, eh?

Well, sorry, Mark, but the level of humor that Kevin Kerby and crew use never rises to the plateaus set by the Bottle Rockets. I will say this much about Mulehead's sophomore release my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 The Gospel Accordion II: it's a great record to get absorbed in.

The band - vocalist/guitarist Kirby, guitarist/vocalist Dave Raymond, bassist/multi-instrumentalist Brent Labeau and drummer Geoff Curran - does sound like a bastard child of Southern rock, creating a glorious noise that reflects a refreshing attack on music so desparately missed these days. This is not your father's Marshall Tucker Band - and that, I'm sure, suits Mulehead just fine, thank you very much.

Some of the finer moments on The Gospel Accordion II you can almost predict from the track listing on the CD. "Busted" is a surprisingly powerful track that shows the reality of life in hard times in contrast with the dreams one once had. "Get Thee Behind Me Satan" is a rollicking good time that dares to flip off the Evil One himself (gee, and I thought Prince would never find work again); try and not laugh at some of the things Kirby and crew come up with on this one.

This isn't to say that each song is a hit. "When The Dope Ran Out (So Did She)" sounds on paper like it could be a track worthy of Jimmy Buffett, but too much repetition and musical wandering do this song in far before its prime. Likewise, "Glad To Be Here" just never seems to get off the ground, and is a relative disappointment.

Then there are the tracks that catch your ear from left field. Songs like "Out Here In The Pines," "Lullaby For Catfish" and "Dig My Grave" all are killer tracks that you'll find yourself going back to time and time again, while "Ozark" is a pretty (albeit too short) instrumental piece that finds Mulehead getting to the core of their sound.

I've made comparisons between Mulehead and the Bottle Rockets earlier; but the only thing that these two bands share is their roots in country-rock. Mulehead proves that they are very much their own band, and deserve to be taken on their own merits - of which there are many.

Mulehead is a band you might never have heard of, and The Gospel Accordion II is not the kind of album you'd quickly find on the shelves at Borders. But both the band and the album are well worth searching out.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of HTS Recordings, and is used for informational purposes only.