Sunday, 6 May 2018

Album of the Month: Just Mustard - Wednesday

Just Mustard - Wednesday

Info: Just Mustard are a five piece band from Dundalk, Ireland. Mining influence from post punk, trip hop and lo-fi electronic music they combine broken hip hop beats, chorus laden bass hooks and abrasive guitar noise with ambient, haunting vocals.

'Wednesday' is the debut LP by Just Mustard. In creating this record they made a conscious effort to provide the listener with the experience of hearing the band in a room, in their natural state, with little to no polished, glossy, post-production magic. Recorded by David Noonan (Just Mustard) in their home studio in Dundalk with additional recording by Chris Ryan (Robocobra Quartet) in Start Together Studios, Belfast.

"In creating this record they made a conscious effort to provide the listener with the experience of hearing the band in a room, in their natural state...". On this count, among many others, Just Mustard achieved their goal on debut album Wednesday with great aplomb. Not only does the listener hear the band in a room, they are in the room with them. The first thing that struck me listening to the album, and one which is very rare, was how the drums in particular play such a core part of how the entire LP plays out, they are central to feeling you are in such close proximity to the sonic grind of the tracks. 

Opening with 'Boo', Just Mustard immediately land you in their trademark distorted screeches, echoed ethereal vocals and mercury guitar-playing. It's quite a hair-raising experience when the percussion pounds mechanically with cymbals on the 3:45 mark, and between then and 4:15 I could listen to this sequence on loop forever, something very special is brewing.

'Curtains' rakes distorted riffs through your head like a rusty chainsaw, again listen to the hollowed out bass drum and cymbal, right to the forefront of the track, I love how unpolished this sounds, it reminds me of the filthiest and most nonchalant moments of The Pixies. There are screaming lost souls burning eternally in hell via the vocals and the rising, bending scorch of the guitars creates a wanted and desired discomfort.

With 'Feeded' Just Mustard take pause and spend a moment in the shoe-gaze territory they visited on occasion on earlier releases such as their debut self-titled EP. It's dream-like, a little bit like how Beach House were at their very beginning, but without the gloss of the production. Vocals are hypnotic, and the underlying current of strict adherence to repeated rhythm compounds that state of escapism.

Just Mustard - Pigs

Aside from the assistance of the gifted Chris Ryan in production, the band retain full creative control over all aspects of their music, and the background of Noonan and Ball in visual arts finds its expression in their music videos. With 'Pigs' we reach peak-Mustard, without labouring on it, the percussion here is just so damn delicious. The sound on the track is heavily industrialised, like a pumpjack moving up and down on a desolate rural landscape in black and white. Those 5 minutes and 40 seconds just fly by, and with this track I think we have a piece of music that moves far beyond the plain of being great, it's outstanding, and one you would offer up if you were to introduce the band to a new listener.

'Tainted' was one of the early tasters we got for Wednesday when it was released back in September 2017. The vocals are pied-piper like, beckoning you innocently to the edge of a cliff before pushing you into the sea with a violent but hushed whisper. In their live performances JM become entirely immersed in their music, they leave the room when they're on that stage and this track always brings back memories for me of how lost you get when witnessing them disappear down the rabbit hole of distorted pandemonium. 

Another early sample from the new LP was 'Deaf', it's a happy-go-merry moment on the album, painted on a wide canvas of calm. Pixies pop back again with Noonan's spoken word converting into a Black Francis screech that is exhilarating and another solid hairs on the back of your neck experience, it feels like a euphoric release, and it is. 

Delving further into their experimental playbook, Just Mustard play grim reaper again with the haunting wail of 'Tennis', a hand grips your elbow and pulls you into the underground, two coins on your eyes as the ferryman unties his rope and you drift off to Hades. This is the soundtrack to sleep paralysis and your absolute worst nightmares and fears, numbed and the loss of control of all faculties, you are now a stiff.

'Pictures' draws the wine velvet curtain down on Wednesday, bass-line and drums wound up tight together just before grating electric guitars enter the milieux. I want the track to descend into absolute chaos, to shock me in some way, and it does, again I could listen to that segment of the track endlessly just on its own. The machine grinds to a halt, it's tired, its work done, we're speechless. With Wednesday I feel like I've heard an album and collection of music that had me in awe when I was a teenager and first started out on a voyage of musical discovery. Music obviously excites me now more than ever, but you never quite recapture that overwhelming feeling of absolute raw wonder that say, for example, hearing Nevermind for the first time, or Doolittle, albums like these made you believe in magic, and I'm very grateful to have that feeling again with Just Mustard's outstanding debut. I don't do ratings on the blog here, but if I did this would be one of the easiest 10/10's ever.

Wednesday is available now on all major streaming services, and most importantly, on vinyl via Pizza Pizza Records or the band's own Bandcamp page (below).

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