Friday, May 15, 2015


Looks like Marcus Mumford et fils got the memo. There are now way too many banjo bands around. Too bad they were the biggest of them, going straight to #1 with their last album and this one as well. It was the group's signature sound, great big folk with a mighty five-string roar. Not any more. Goodness, what is Winston Marshall to do?

The answer is he's moved to electric guitar. Mumford has plugged in too, plus the kick drum is gone, and he playing a full drum kit. You won't see Ted Dwane with his acoustic bass, he strapping one on now, and Ben Lovett's got a synth. So, do we really need another basic rock band? And what will the reaction be from the legions of I Will Wait fans?

It's certainly still recognizably M & S, thanks to Mumford's distinctive vocals. It fits into modern rock well too. Lead single Believe (written by the rest of the group, instead of Mumford, the usual tunesmith) is an eerie ballad until it gets bathed in loud, edgy guitar. The Wolf is a guitar rocker, with a de rigueur epic sweep. This time its loud at the start, with soft bits in the middle. Abrupt endings seem to be a thing now as well. Then there's Snake Eyes, which is soft and then everybody plays really loud and ... you get the picture.

So, I figure the group was right to shake things up, the new folk boom has clearly got out of hand, as booms do eventually. What's bugging me is that Marcus Mumford actually impressed the hell out of me on that Lost on the River project, where some roots artists (Costello, Jim James, etc.) made new songs out of some unused Dylan lyrics from the time of the Basement Tapes. It wasn't derivative music, it was simply really good, timeless. That would have been a way to go: More roots rock oriented, dump the banjo, but don't sound like all the current guitar bands.

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