The Marvelous Mishmash of the Mumlers

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The Mumlers
  • The Mumlers
The press release that accompanied my copy of Don’t Throw Me Away (Galaxia), the charming second album from San Jose’s Mumlers, cites Bobby “Blue” Bland as singer Will Sprott’s favorite artist. Sprott’s got nothing on Bland, one of the great soul-blues vocalists of all time, but his nimble band has forged its own quirky strain of mush-mouthed soul. It’s hard not to refer to them as “the Mumblers,” considering Sprott’s slack-jawed delivery—when he’s at his most loquacious he reminds me a bit of Andrew Bird.

The Mumlers are a capable and resourceful sextet of multi-instrumentalists whose arrangements reference a panoply of styles over the course of the album—drunken cabaret, quasi garage rock, five-and-dime Dixieland, and swoony 50s pop, among others, all played with the kind of appealing looseness that helps you hear their imperfections as charisma. Many of the songs reference classic material, most explicitly in the “St. James Infirmary” swipe of “St. James St.,” but the band have so thoroughly scrambled and internalized their borrowings that they seem to own them now.

The Mumlers play the Beat Kitchen on Thursday night.

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