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Pray for Mojo

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Mustard Plug 31/6/1999

Review

For anyone who wished the new-school punks would play more ska (yes NOFX, Rancid, et al.; that means you), Mustard Plug is the answer to their prayers. Marrying the melody drenched sound sweeping out of the current crop of spiky haired bands with the razor-edged riffing of reggae, and strewing it all with brass, this Grand Rapids, Michigan band fall firmly between the genre cracks. They're much faster and more musically upbeat than Two-Tone, far punkier than their fellow skankers, but lyrically less angsty than the punks. In fact, what first hits one about Pray for Mojo is the sheer exuberance of the set's sound and the pure enthusiasm of the band. But for all its uniqueness, one can still hear the antecedents, a melting pot of influences. "So Far to Go"'s dynamics are reminiscent of Simple Minds' "Street Life," as played by U.K. Subs, assuming, of course, they had a brass section as ferocious as their guitarist. It's easy to forget that Simple Minds began as a punk band, but Mustard haven't; however they're closer in sound to the hardcore scene, past and present, as "Throw a Bomb" makes clear, while "Someday, Right Now" is just one of a number of tracks that nod to NOFX. With their sharp melodies and hefty hooks, anthemic singalongs are the band's specialty, but they're agile enough to occasionally slow down the pace with powerful results as on "Time Will Come," or slip into purer pop-punk-ska as they do on "Yesterday" and the exhilarating "Send You Back." Of course, plenty of punk bands have delved into ska, and vice-versa, but few with such panache and exuberance as Mustard Plug. But what makes this ska-core group special is the fabulous horn section of trumpeter Brandon Jenison and trombonist Jim Hofer. The pair plump up the band's sound, give further kick to the rhythm, but crucially carry the rousing melodies on their own or in collusion with their bandmates. Without them, Mustard would still be a magnificently tight and melodic unit, but with them, the band move onto an entirely new plane. Who knew that brass could blaze away with as much punk fire as guitars, bass, and drums? ~ Jo-Ann Greene
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  1. # Track Artist Length
  2. 1 Send You Back Mustard Plug 2:10
  3. 2 Not Giving In Mustard Plug 2:44
  4. 3 Someday, Right Now Mustard Plug 3:25
  5. 4 Everything Girl Mustard Plug 3:6
  6. 5 Away From Here Mustard Plug 3:26
  7. 6 Throw a Bomb Mustard Plug 2:27
  8. 7 Lolita Mustard Plug 2:51
  9. 8 Mend Your Ways Mustard Plug 2:17
  10. 9 So Far to Go Mustard Plug 2:10
  11. 10 Time Will Come Mustard Plug 2:57
  12. 11 Yesterday Mustard Plug 3:10
  13. 12 We're Gunna Take on the World Mustard Plug 2:18

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