Review Summary: "Songs From Under The Sink" is an odds and ends collection of songs that were written before Mischief Brew's debut album. As such it doesn't have the cohesion and musical power of it's predecessor, but is still an excellent bunch of tunes.
Mischief Brew is a largely acoustic punk band that plays a blend of "pirate punk, Celtic folk, gypsy swing, devilish jazz, American olde-tyme and country," at least according to their website. What they DO play is an original and powerful breed of folk-punk that incorporates elements of all the above genres, while still remaining recognizable as punk rock. They have been active since 2000 and show no signs of stopping now.
All the songs appearing in "Songs From Under The Sink" were written between 1997 and 2002 by frontman Erik Peterson and were recorded less than a year after Mischief Brew's debut album "Smash the Windows" was released in 2005. This collection was released as a full length album on Fistolo Records.
The music of this album draws less from traditional gypsy music than "Smash the Windows". Instead there is a more pronounced influence from conventional folk-punk. While "Tell Me A Story" demonstrates an eastern european influence in certain passages, it is one of the few songs to do so. Other songs, such as the anthemic "Coffee, God and Cigarettes" are simply acoustic punk rock songs. This isn't a bad thing, as some of the best songs on this album have no influence from gypsy music. It is however, somewhat different from what the listener may be expecting.
The best thing about this album is that there are so many songs that qualify as being among the best Mischief Brew has written. Chief among them are the ballads "Love and Rage" and "Save A City", the two songs with "Coffee" in the title and the gleefully destructive "Children Play With Matches". "Coffee, God and Cigarettes" has an extremely catchy chorus that is almost impossible not to sing along to, and "Love and Rage" features an organ part that gives the song a sense of power and spirituality that would be entirely absent otherwise. "Children Play With Matches" finds Erik Peterson playing a bouncy, toe tapping guitar line and cheerfully encouraging children to be as destructive and malicious as possible.
The album does drag towards the end, as most of the songs after "Coffee, God and Cigarettes" are forgettable in comparison, and there are a handful of filler tracks that just bog down the rest of the album. But with an album that is just a compilation of early songs, to get something this good is a pleasant surprise. Any fan of Mischief Brew would do well to get this record. For new fans however, I would recommend the debut "Smash The Windows."