Track Review: MUTT- Etching









Etching is available at:



The band’s E.P. (MUTT) is available at:







9thth May, 2015

Alternative, Rock, Grunge, Dream-Pop


Birmingham, U.K.

Lottie Spencer – Vocals, Guitar (Track 3)
Ollie Bennett – Guitar
Tom Murray – Drums
Liam Nevitt/Bob – Bass (Tracks 1 & 2)
Sam Bicknell – Bass (Tracks 3 & 4)

All tracks written by Lottie Spencer and MUTT

All tracks recorded, mixed and mastered by Dave McCabe at Muthers Studio

Cover Artwork by Chris Beckett

Photography by David Buckingham


IT is nice to step away from something ‘predictable’ and…

discover music with a bit of edge- that is unusual and foreign.  The issue of change is large in my thoughts: at the moment, I am going through a lot of it (change); making new plans for life- aiming to be/do something different.  In addition to a job ending (in 6 weeks), I want to relocate (London to begin; further north as the years progress); start doing what I want to do in life- working in music and charity; not sitting at a desk all day.  Change can occur through circumstance; sometimes through luck and misfortune- a lot of time, it happens because of necessity.  It is okay to live a particular way of life: if it makes you miserable, then you need to get out.  From home-life to work: I hate every minute of every day.  That is not a life at all: it is the rock-bottom moment- a serious wake-up call to make change.  (I am doing this) as we speak; but whilst I ‘figure it all out’, music is providing a great distraction/compromise- and allowing me some escapism and inspiration.  Over the past few months, I have assessed some great music: a lot of it can be grouped into the same genres- there seems to be little shock-and-awe.  Whilst my soul belongs to ‘softer’ and tenderer music- Grace and Graceland (with their brotherly love and namesake identities are two of my all-time favourite albums) – my heart (and loins) will always lust for the primal- something that always does something wonderful.  I hope MUTT will not mind (me going off on a tangential direction) but it has struck my mind: what is it about music that makes it so special?  If I had to choose my ‘greatest ever’ albums, I would put The Bends, Grace, Graceland; Superunknown, Rubber Soul and Elephant among them.  In that list- and across my favourite songs- there is diversity and a split: half spirited and soulful; half raw and passionate.  At the moment, I am getting back to Beastie Boys: rediscovering Paul’s Boutique and all its wonders.  Sampling and experimental music is rare these days- perhaps because of the huge license costs of sampling others- and new musicians are on a tight budget.  If your money is low; if you are starting out: what does a new act do (to gain attention)?  MUTT are an act that fulfil all of my points: they experiment with genres and sounds; have a terrific lo-fi sound- whilst mingling impassioned swagger with more introverted moments.  Too many acts (I have reviewed lately) have sounded a little samey: portraying the same sound and themes; not really breaking away from that mould- it is good to hear something a little different.  Lottie Spencer, Ollie Bennett, Liam Nevitt and Tom Murray form the hound’s legs (of the dog’s bollocks).  The canine attack was formatted in 2013: since then, the group have been putting together (their self-titled) E.P. – building a reputation around their native Birmingham.  It is rare to hear bands come out of Birmingham- I have probably reviewed as many in Birmingham, Alabama as I have in the Midlands.  The Midlands have a great music scene, yet the big cities still grab the headlines: London is coming through and stealing a lot of current focus.  Away from the bright lights and capital gains, eyes should be trained further afield- discover musicians doing something great.  MUTT are in their infancy, and are still testing the water: seeing what the future holds; how fans/the press are going to take to them.

When it comes to comparing the band (to other acts) you would be slightly difficult.  A lot of new acts (on the scene) tend to stick to familiar sounds- replicate other bands and lack originality.  MUTT have a great Punk/Alternative sound- you could see them fitting into the scene of 1970s New York (playing CBGB and The Ding Dong Longue (on the Upper West Side).  Saying that, MUTT have some ‘modern vibes’- and sounds of current acts- like Royal Blood and Green Day.  Their raw and sparse production puts me in mind of Pixies and early-day Nirvana- around the time of Bleach.  With Spencer up top, I am put in mind of icons like Patti Smith, Joan Jett and Alison Mosshart- with shades of Debbie Harry in there.  It would be remiss to (say the band is the sum of) their parts, yet you can hear some others: great bands and acts (of past and present) come through in their music.  Defined by tight-knit and enlivened performances, the quartet invoke the spirits of (Punk and Grunge greats); unifying U.S. and U.K. sounds- flavours of London, Birmingham and Manchester into the bargain.  If you are new the band- and most people will be to be fair- you may be a little cautious: am I really going to like them?  What I would say is, that if you are a fan of most genres- and not picky and particular- then investigate MUTT- they do not push away anyone; they make music for the masses.  With a sound made for festivals (and small, sweaty bars) the band have a ubiquitous and mobile sound- I could well see them supporting all manner of other acts.  What impresses me most is the production values: it is lo-fi and raw; live-sounding and primal- whilst having professional and assured qualities.  Sharp and rushing; instant and memorable: the band are not disposable and expendable (instead primed for some long-term regard).  Whether you are a fan of Alternative music- including ‘genre sisters’ Grunge, Hard-Rock and Dream-Pop- or something more Pop-based, you will appreciate MUTT: a group that aim to galvanise and inspire fans; rather than balkanise and divide.

Following on from Sapling’s- the E.P.’s lead-off track- comes Etching: the E.P.’s most direct and memorable offering.  The band is keen to emphasise economy and concision (every track on their E.P. is a one-worded offering).  Starting with a bold and chest-beating introduction, Ethcing gets off to the races: it is a hot and heavy combination; a swaggering mixture of U.S. Punk and Alternative sounds.  Our heroine approaches the mic. with an alluring and pin-pricking vocal: an intoxicating sound that emphasises every word.  With fingers tangled- and souls being plucked- our heroine sounds aghast and angered: there is a sense of urgency and passion to hear delivery.  “My future follows the etching on your back…” sings Spencer: enraptured in her own words, you can hear that urgency and sweat.  The boys in the band make sure (they aid their comrade ably) with a full force of noise: the performances in the early stages perfectly blend Grunge grit with melodic overtones.  Images of future tense (and soul-burning possibility) are enflamed by fuzzed-out guitars; dead-eyed bass drive- rampantly flailing percussion.  In the midst of some loose and swinging moments is plenty of focus- every note is tight and assured.  Mixing the vocal stewardship of Parallel Lines-era Blondie (Spencer has hints of Debbie Harry at her peak); MUTT change through the gears: their passion and performances are unwavering; they never lose pace and power- there is a huge emphasis on the overall sound and sensation.  With some Black Sabbath riffs; Nirvana-esque stab- bonded to Dookie/Minority Green Day- you can hear some familiar sounds- the band update these influences with their own stamp and personality.  The chorus is (perhaps the song’s) most defining stamp: a simple and memorable coda that is built for chants and chorusing- the festival crowds and mosh pit-stalking fans.  Never losing its grip and prowess- the song is a shade under 5 minutes- the band keep Etching mobile and shape-shifting: incorporating different riffs and diversions; the track never seems wayward or overlong.  Each member steps up to the plate: before the 3-minute stage, a fuzzed-out riff starts things; it mutates with bass and percussion- developing into something dangerous and savage.  Our heroine seems malevolent and witch-like: slurring and teasing, the vocals crawl and swagger like a beast (feasting for blood).  Just as you feel like the song is coming to land, the band let loose: the volume rises; the vocal intensifies- the composition hits its peak.  As Etching comes to a close, you get a sense of exhaustion: having wrung the emotions; played with such force and passion- the listener needs a chance to relax/reflect.

A sharp and potent track (from a terrific E.P.) it is great to arrive upon MUTT: a band with a great sense of confidence and authority.  Etching is a song, very much in the mould of Royal Blood: designed to rule the festival scenes; put the authenticity back into music.  With their incredible bond- and expert performances- the song benefits hugely.  The bare and raw production values allow the band to come across as live-sounding- as though you were in the studio with them- which adds to the track.  Too much polish would dent its potential; strip away its true sound- and disvalue the lyrics.  One of the things- the band may want to think about in the future- is decipherability and intelligibility (some of the words and notes get lost in the mix; some of the lyrics are a little hard to fathom).  Spencer is a terrific singer- and one of the best new voices I have heard- who has a unique sense of projection and delivery.  Making sure her words slither and spiral; tease and tense- it is great to hear such a refreshing and urgent voice.  Backing Bennett (on guitar) the duo manages to whip up a storm of strings: fusing genres and emotions, the duo is compelling throughout.  Nevitt’s bass- Sam Bicknell plays bass on Hammerheart and Silver– is direct and driving throughout: guiding the song forward, it is a compelling force.  With Murray providing pummel and (percussive anger) and you have a solid backbone: a drummer who is by no means in the background.  Some minor detractions aside, Etching is a solid track (from a terrific band) and should see them go far- I can see them coming out with future E.P.s (and albums too).

MUTT’s (self-titled debut) is an impressive start: the group has a great deal of potential and class.  Backed by assured (and original) songwriting, the band has a close and gilded bond- every song is defined by a tight and urgent performance.  Most bands- when it comes to their infant days- seem a little nervy and shaky: this is not the case with MUTT.  From the streets of Birmingham, the four-piece have eyes for bigger things: when their name is fully recognized, they have the potential to travel far and wide- across the U.K. and U.S.  With music that is both familiar and different, the group is making a great start- and showcases their full abilities and qualities.  Their E.P. – and its four tracks- covers a lot of ground: various emotions and subjects are touched-upon.  There is not a weak track there; no real need for improvement: what I would say is for the band to look at clarity- a few of the lines and verses seem a little muted/indecipherable (either overcome by the composition are too low in the mix).  It is a minor ‘quibble’ among a sea of plaudits: the group should be very proud.  It would be good to see them expand upon this E.P.: think about taking a mini-tour; working on a new music video- getting their name and image out there.  The group’s E.P. is a four-track collection perfectly arranged/programmed: each track is fairly long; they manage to drop every ounce of possibility from every song.  Saplings is a perfect opener: a vibrant and rollicking track that is kick-ass and vivacious- a brain-rattling testament of MUTT’s ideals.  Hammerheart’s foreboding basslines; its savage attack-and-feast mentality is insatiable- propelled by a vocal that is both shivering and romantic (strangely enough).  Silver sees the band teasing and tempting: a perfect closer (and one of the E.P.’s most compelling tracks).  Never overcrowded or formulaic, the group shifts their sound: tracks modulate emotions and sensations; there is never a dull moment- MUTT is a bitttccchinnn’ (sic.) proposition.  I shall conclude- as I have been rambling on a bit- by looking to their future: just what the rest of the year has in store.  I would suggest the band augment their social media output.  Although it is early days, an official website would be great: it not only gives fans a clearer glimpse into the group- it puts all their information and links into a handy source.  The group has caught the ear of reviewers and the press: it would be awesome to see more interviews and personal information- who influences the group; where they hope to go.  The music speaks volumes, yet it would be good to know (the people behind the music) – get their names out there.  What is most important (I guess) for now, is the music: whether their fledgling offering is worth seeking-out.  The short answer is: hell-yeah!  Whilst not as instantaneous and monolithic (as the likes of Royal Blood and The Ramones for instance) the band are a step above (most of their) peers- more direct and hot-bloodied than most acts out there.  Forged by their close bond- and clear intuition- the four-piece have a definite future: where they go from here is their own choice.  Their self-titled record is a confident slice of music: an E.P. that deserves wider acclaim; gain a big following.  In a time of change- for myself and other musicians- it is great to hear a band with some guts: doing things their own way.  That is something…

EVERYONE should be inspired by.



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