Friday, May 16, 2014

Mingo Fishtrap: “On Time” (2014) CD Review

Mingo Fishtrap is an eight-piece band, complete with horns, based in Austin. The band’s new album, On Time, is full of positive vibes and grooves. There is a lot of music to lift you to your feet, then get them moving. The music is a mixture of soul, rock, pop, funk, and even blues (like on “Things Ain’t What They Was” and “Born Without A Heart”). The vocals are delivered with power and soul and joy.  There are lots of good grooves, and some wonderful work from each of the band members. For example, check out the cool work on piano in the instrumental section of “Silver Lining.”

The album kicks off with “End Of The World,” a cool tune, with elements of gospel, and delivered with the energy of a New Orleans band. There are moments when the song becomes kind of sexy, bringing things down to a more intimate feel, the vocals at those moments reminding me of Dr. John (“Would you love like it’s the end of the world”).  And of course I dig the horns. “Run like you did when we were just kids/Singing just as loud as you can/And laugh ‘til you cry.”

“Mason Jar” is a fun tune, with bright, positive sounds from the horns and lyrics about taking a nip from the “magic mason jar.” There is a kind of funky groove during the verses. This band reminds me at times of Entrain.

There is a slightly more serious, bluesy vibe to “Things Ain’t What They Was,” particularly in the guitar work. And the song tackles a typical blues subject, a woman that leaves him for another. But then things change: “She told me she was sorry/She could not live without me anymore/Said the only love she’d ever known was gone/Things ain’t what they was before.” There are moments in the song that approach Stevie Wonder, especially near the end. Dave Scher plays guitar on this track.

“Movin” is a song whose point is to raise the singer up and prove him to be in good spirits, and so the song of course is upbeat and full of joy. He sings, “I’m going to be just fine,” then adds in spoken word, “I’m going to be all right.” And it doesn’t seem to be a case of protesting too much; you get the sense by the end that the music has worked its magic, and that he is in fact fine. And you will be too, listening to this track. (This is another that reminds me a bit of Entrain.)

“Sugadoo” is a lot of fun, in the music (with the joyous bursts on horn) as well as the lyrics, with lines like “Have yourself a slice of my pie too.” Vocally, this one also approaches Stevie Wonder territory. There is then an interesting section a couple of minutes in, with backing vocalists sounding almost like a choir behind him, hitting those delicious low notes, almost like humming to provide a supportive and wonderful base. This is one of my favorite tracks.

The title track, “On Time,” is a song that is part joy, part hope. It’s a mix of pop and soul.  The vocals rise especially on the song’s chorus: “I wait my turn in line/For my chance to shine/And when that day arrives/I’ll be right on time.”

“Too Far Gone” begins with some great percussion, and then some soul vocals, getting it off to a perfect start. And in fact, there is some wonderful work on drums throughout, keeping up a funky joy. There is a wonderful energy to this tune. During one section toward the end when the horns take over and we hear a sound bite (“There’s an arrow in her chest”), the tune reminds me just a bit of some the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies’ work.

"Where Did You Come From" is a smoother love song, and yes, it has some cheesy lines, such as “Heaven must be missing an angel, because you’re right here with me.” But the saxophone saves it.

Treson Scipio joins the band on vocals for the CD's final track, "Fireproof."

CD Track List

  1. End Of The World
  2. Mason Jar
  3. Things Ain’t What They Was
  4. Movin
  5. Silver Lining
  6. Sugadoo
  7. On Time
  8. Too Far Gone
  9. Have I
  10. Where Did You Come From
  11. Born Without A Heart
  12. Fireproof


Mingo Fishtrap is Roger Blevins, Jr. on lead vocals and guitar; Dan Bechdolt on tenor sax and baritone sax; Steve Butts on trumpet and flugelhorn, Roger Blevins, Sr. on bass; Chip Vayenas on drums, percussion and vocals; Mikel Urdy on percussion; Dane Farnsworth on organ, piano, keyboards and vocals; and Zol Waterhouse on trombone.

On Time is scheduled to be released on June 3, 2014 through Blue Corn Music and The Orchard.

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