Review Summary: DIY: evidence that a recording contract isn’t necessary to make great music.
DIY: do it yourself. I, myself wonder if many artists/bands hear that from potential record labels or if they, themselves just decide it would be easier produce their music that way. In any case Erik Petersen, front man for folk-punk band Mischief Brew has been doing so, successfully for the past six years or so. While he started briefly playing songs off a demo with only a mandolin or acoustic guitar, Petersen quickly graduated full scale to an entire band and went on to release what’s thought by some to be one of the best folk influenced punk albums ever, with Smash the Windows
. The Stone Operation
is the group’s third full length (not counting splits and collaborations) and the first technical studio album for the band since 2006. In the five years between studio albums, Petersen has thankfully not lost the grit and talent that made his music so loveable. Operation
is a perfect mix of folk and punk with a glistening of hardcore on the vocals; it’s not all about anarchy, and it’s just as damn fun as the band’s debut album was.
One of the pieces of Mischief Brew that makes the band so charming is in fact its DIY ethic. The nature for Petersen’s choice is not up for debate, but the outcome has always been able to please his fans. Even though they don’t record with any professional equipment the production always sounds good. The noisy drum kits have in fact become an endearing part of what people love about this band, and without the improvised “junk” instruments Petersen created, it just wouldn’t be the same band that it is today. The best part about Operation
is that each song is easily different from one another. Whether it’s more chord heavy, has more acoustic guitar in the song or has that hardcore touch of vocals, Petersen does his best to stray from replicating the songs over and over again.
From the start Mischief Brew was an amalgamation of instruments. Ranging from the acoustic/electric guitar to mandolin to violin to homemade “junk” and ending with its signature noisy drum kits. For the new album nothing has changed, Petersen draws from various genres like flamenco in “Dallas in Romania” and celtic-punk in “On The Sly”. Most of the album keeps the same pace, never really picking up with the exception for a last two songs on the album. “Drinking Song” and “Untitled” are really the only two songs on the album that really have the punk rock feel. The first of the pair could almost be seen as part two of “A Liquor Never Brewed” which was found on the band’s debut album. “Untitled” on the other hand is something entirely different. It’s not really so much a Mischief Brew song as it is Petersen’s confusing attempt at writing something much, much heavier than his normal fare. The solo and drum roll in the beginning sound like they belong on a Mastodon album and when his vocals finally come in it’s easier to believe that it’s actually his creation. It’s heavier, not at all influenced by folk and possibly where Petersen could be heading for the direction for future musical endeavors.
The Stone Operation
is essentially Smash the Windows
minus the anarcho-punk aspect that made Mischief Brew popular originally. It hits on other styles of music, sounds marginally different, but at the end of the day what really counts is that Petersen hasn’t lost that raspy charm that made him so enjoyable to listen to. It’s been a couple years since we’ve heard from the boys of Mischief Brew and hopefully with the impact of this release it won’t be such a long wait until the next one.