A band with the motto “trad is rad” obviously has more to offer than your everyday Appalachian folk ditties. Other artists have popularized the marriage between traditional bluegrass and urban folk rock, but with their newest album, New York-based band The Mammals seem to have a knack for making it work better than most, and certainly with more interesting departures.
“Do Not Go Quietly Unto Your Grave” has a lonesome Smoky Mountains feel mixed with hazy 1970s stoner rock. For old-timey sounding titles like “Alone on the Homestead” and “Follow Me to Carthage,” they wrap traditional instrumental composition in contemporary indie-rock guitar riffs and smart drum beats.
Oddities include a song sung in Spanish, a slithering cover of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are,” and sassy lyrics about non-conformity obscured by swampy, laid-back fiddling. Singers Ruth Unger (famous fiddler Jay’s daughter) and Michael Merenda sometimes restrain their vocals—much like Sam Beam, aka Iron & Wine—so they don’t overpower the array of banjo, fiddle and stand-up bass elements. When someone talks quietly you listen harder, and the effect here is much the same. (Erika Fredrickson)
The Mammals play the River City Roots Festival Saturday, Sept. 15, on Main St. Their set is scheduled for 6:30 PM. Free.