Blabber’n’Smoke mentioned Milwaukee band R Mutt back in 2011 when we reviewed Leash On Life. An energetic combo who play no frills American rock’n’roll shaped by Bruce, Punk and Outlaw Country, the band reached out to us recently with their latest disc, The Dash, which follows the dictum of if it ain’t broke don’t fix it but there has been some tinkering under the hood since we last heard them.
There’s been some line up changes with Jim Dier and Ron Thornton now joined by Dave Smolarek on guitar and Matt Schreier on drums with both newbies well integrated and assisting in some of the songwriting. In addition, the band credit producer Kevin Blackwell for adding an edge to their songs that they feel was at times lacking in their previous albums. And although I’d hesitate to say that they sound more polished here there is a vibrancy to the recording while there is also a slight shift from the Springsteen like elements that was so apparent on Leash Of Life with the band delving further into the burnished rock of Blue Oyster Cult with dashes of MC5, grunge and even occasional power pop thrown in. Songs like Mystery and Hypocrite have radio friendly riffs with refined vocals and cascades of guitars, the latter adding an Elvis Costello like sneer.
The opening title song barrels in with lyrics that cast doubt on the American Dream with the band crashing around in a style reminiscent of the MC5. This is reinforced by the classic guitar intro into Pushing Tin which is Chuck Berry meets U2 with the subject matter the drudgery of an endless day at the coalface for little reward. On Never Look Back the band lock down into a pummelling rock groove that one could equally equate to The Stones and the better glam rock bands of the seventies and even, dare we say it, Kiss. BOC come to mind on the dynamic Glass Citadel and the pell mell frantic delivery of Queen Of Speed but the band are well able to wind it down somewhat with the slightly psychedelic tones of Captain Sidewinder which is swathed in Mellotron and languid guitars sounding for all the world like a Spirit outtake. It’s a different approach for the band I’d like to hear more like this. In the meantime, The Dash is a very fine album that proves there’s still a spirit of adventure in the American heartlands.