23 years into a career of playing solid rock ‘n’ roll, R. Mutt is doing it for all the right reasons: namely, they love doing it. And if you do the quick math, it’s easy to figger that band members Paul Leckie (drums), Jim Dier (bass), and guitarists Ron Thornton and Dan Power ain’t 20-somethings trying to keep up with the current hot hairstyles or the latest trend in body part piercings. The fact of the matter is, they couldn’t give a shit less – R. Mutt just wants to play.
And when it comes right down to it folks, there’s no better fuel for rock ‘n’ roll than that.
The tunes on R. Mutt’s new Leash On Life album are built from confident musicianship and mature songwriting. (Don’t mistake “mature” for “boring,” though – nobody’s pining for their senior year of high school here, that’s all. They can still kick your ass across the dance floor in the nicest of ways.)
Start through the tracks and you’ll think you hear any number of influences: “Spinout” sounds like an All Shook Down -era Replacements song with a chugging acoustic guitar providing the underpinnings while the electrics snap and growl in the foreground. The churn of “Fighting” may put you in mind of The Radiators trying to crank out one more before closing time. The half-rapped wordplay over top of the funky, lurching groove of “Think About It” is almost Zappa-esque. And if “The Tale Of Bobby A” doesn’t make you think of vintage Springsteen, you might want to have that problem seen to.
Having said all that, every damn cut on Leash On Life sounds like R. Mutt – and R. Mutt is a fine, fine sounding band able to pull a wide variety of sound out of a classic four-piece lineup. “Regret And Second Guesses” has the hook and growl of ol’ Johnny Thunders at his best; “Dynamo” is a study in lead drums (tasteful work there, Mr. Leckie) and boys-in-the-bar harmonies; and ride that sweet bass line through “Sisyphus” and see if you don’t come out the other side grinning like a fool.
Like a good pair of pre-washed jeans, Leash On Life fits well right out of the box. Why? Because you like rock ‘n’ roll and so do the members of R. Mutt – and they’ve been playing it together for a couple decades or more. It’s that simple.
Now go crank up the Mutt.