Artist: New Mongrels
Album: Raised Incorruptible
Music, Lyrics: Haynes Brooke
Produced by: Haynes Brooke, Kubilay Uner
Styles: Folk/Roots, Americana, Indie, Folk Rock, Acoustic
Raised Incorruptible, released on the 14th of January, 2014, is by an artist collective with a history as vibrant as the music they make. They call themselves the New Mongrels, a continuation of the Mongrels who began by meeting to “drink hard cider and sing the entire book of Psalms to their improvised melodies.”
This 148-year old group, operating now on an “amended version of the original by-laws”, are a diverse group of artists who write and make songs that are a blend of genres, instruments, voices and themes that appeal to the collective unconscious. Led by Haynes Brooke, with an array of artists on vocals and an exemplary range of instrumentals, the album paints a musical landscape of joy, sentiment and profundity in a way that feels candid and wholesome!
|Love It Madly|
|Dogs and Kings|
|Heal My Heart|
The female vocals hit you first… they slide along the melody, across the gentle notes and strumming. It washes over you, especially with the instrumental interlude and contemplative lyrics. “Easy come, easy go/it’s just time, you can’t hold it/It’s just time, (let go).”
2. Love It Madly
A slow, folksy number that asks those timeless, eternal questions about matters of the heart. The vocals uplift you but it’s the instrumentation that truly creates the surge. Grows on you with time and once it does, it’s an easy favourite of the album!
3. Raised Incorruptible
Raised Incorruptible is another slow-paced track that takes its time to resonate with you. By the time the violins are out and the accordion can be heard, it’s easy to get lost in the imagery of the lyrics and the tranquility that comes with it.
Takes you to the clouds, strikes a chord and midway, the thundering instrumentals takes you by surprise. The instrumentals definitely lend much-needed vigor to the track…whose wistful lyrics, while “like running water”, catches fire only at this juncture.
5. Decision Time
The opening betrays a hint of country before it goes back to its folksy roots. The melody is twinkly, the strumming pretty and the use of multiple vocals for different parts of this song worked well! Let’s loose towards the end with lyrics that are definitely of the heart-skipping variety.
The trumpet, which feels like a clarion call, is succeeded by gentler melodies that create a perfect, suburban backdrop for the sweet uncomplicatedness that underlies this song. The hook is simplistic, capturing the kind of contentment –of making most of the little things- that takes your breath away.
The vocals are perfect for the undercurrent of beats that slowly builds into a chorus that will have you nodding along, thinking “yeah”. Faster and catchier than most of the previous tracks!
8. Dogs and Kings
The male-female vocal layers are the highlight of this song; making the stream-of-consciousness lyrics even more wholesome. It’s easy to get lost in the imagery of it all. In the process, I’m sure I missed some of its finer points but the lyrics definitely grab you.
A case of gentle strumming, haunting melodies and lyrics rich in self-empowerment. “Seems is the opposite of be,” seems to be the central point of this simple yet fluid track that does not go anywhere that hasn’t been gone before as far as the message and melody are concerned. Yet, the succinctness and range of instrumentation alone makes this track worth listening to!
For a song titled Ruination, this track sounds uncharacteristically chipper. It’s a welcome, detached perspective on the preoccupations everyone is privy to at some point; and quirkily put too!
11. Heal My Heart
Heal My Heart has the whole jazzy-rock vibe going for it. It has a catchy albeit repetitive hook that really works with the rhythm of the song!
12. Palm Point
A folksy and picturesque track that’s packed with history and punch. Easy to listen to but does not make much of an impression overall.
13. Two Trees
A slow, ponderous track in which the instrumentals are beautifully minimalist. It lends authenticity to the lyrics and makes you listen hard to the very solid and very raw vocals. The violin in the succeeding half has you transfixed to the moment! One of the few tracks of the album that comes close to exuding melancholy.
14. Tuborg Gold
A track that’s completely instrumental. At most, ties the album together. Not a stand-out but a pretty soothing accompanier to rolling credits.
Final thoughts: Primarily folk/roots, acoustic and Americana with a dash of indie and folk/rock, Raised Incorruptible explores the nuances of universal sentimentalities and awakenings. It’s definitely more than just ear candy as it appeals to the soul in terms of the themes and sheer range of instrumentation… but could’ve done with lesser tracks as mid-album, a feeling of repetitiveness sets in. Still, at no point does the album feel manufactured or overproduced. As an artist collective with a purpose that never gets lost along the way, the New Mongrels definitely succeeds!
Picks of the album: Time, Love It Madly, Gentle, Freedom, Seems, Two Trees