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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisNew Orleans is always known for a complex and alluring musical gumbo, so it's no surprise to see MUTEMATH calling the Crescent City home. While the group has steadily ascended the indie rock ranks thus far throughout the 2000s, its musical interests date all the way back to the psychedelic/rhythm and blues eras, crossed with modern day electronica and a sense of unconventional experimentation for pretty much any scene.
As a result, the trio comprised of front man/keyboardist Paul Meany, bassist Roy Mitchell-Cardenas and drummer Darren King had no trouble selling out Chicago's House of Blues, which marked a true treat for fans used to seeing them at massive festivals like Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo, Voodoo Music Experience and the Vans Warped Tour. And after two solid hours of boundless energy and explosive visuals, it won't be long before the band is headlining such prestigious stages.
Though the more than two dozen song set list was career spanning, members are so proud of the new CD Odd Soul (Warner Bros.) that they played it from front to back. The project serves as the band's rawest out of its three long players thanks to its self-produced status in Meany's house, which translated to the stage with a mixture of garagey grit, synth-spiked retro rock and even the punkish power that's often drawn comparisons to The Police.
Early examples of its delightfully schizophrenic songbook included the grungy "Odd Soul," the sputtering and soulful "Prytania," plus the booming, even more groove-worthy "Blood Pressure." "Spotlight" served as one of the band's most rhythmically intricate and spastically presented performances, while the older "Plan B" percolated with stinging keys and pounding percussion. All the while, MUTEMATH was backed by a series of furiously swirling lights, confetti blasts, a small b-stage and synchronized screens that seemed like a second cousin to Radiohead (with the production only likely to expand with the band's platform).
Even with all of the action, there were a few moments that simmered, like the ambient "In No Time" and the reggae-leaning "Noticed." Yet the momentum mounted to the point of near overload come later cuts like "Control" and "Quarantine," two feverish jams that blended the best of MUTEMATH's sonic myriad. While the band is certainly beyond the best kept secret phase at this point, it may still be a bit before household name status sinks in (if only for the cerebral nature of some songs), though in the meantime, anyone who appreciates risk taking and boundary breaking won't be disappointed.
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