LP Review; Hot Mulligan: “Pilot”

“Deluxe Capacitor” starts with a few hits in the percussion section through a cymbal timbre. This sets the pulse of the work directly before the full instrumental ensemble joins in to provide the audience with a simple melodic figure to vibe with. Throughout this interlude, the instrumentalists set a motive that takes step-wise motion and stretches that to create a pleasing but not overwhelming musical idea. This interlude remains solid for quite some time before the first vocals of the album enter. The first vocals that are presented to the audience fall in the middle range of the vocalist; however, the singer doesn’t supply a bland melodic idea; rather, he stretches his middle range to give the audience a gentle contour of his natural voice. Once the voice enters, the instrumentation drops to allow the audience to focus on the first vocals of the album as well as the first lyrical content provided. The instrumentation may be scarce, but the instrumentation that is provided is used to enhance certain moments of the melodic line. This tactic allows the song to become more appealing to the listeners, and it’ll help them want to learn the lyrics quicker. Right before the band transitions into the chorus of the work, the overall volume of the band drops for a split second to mimic what would almost be a grand pause. From this, the entire band comes together to give an over the top chorus that will stick with the audience, for it has an overly memorable aura to it. In the middle of the track, the band includes a small instrumental feature that takes the listeners to the second verse of the work, which is extremely identical to the first. After the second run of the chorus, the band moves towards the end of the piece by spinning into another instrumental feature that eventually leads the audience back to the chorus to finish things up. This was a strong first track for the band’s debut album, for it was one of their leading tracks from their first release, and it is a perfect example of what Hot Mulligan’s characteristic sound is.

“All You Wanted By Michelle Branch” starts with a string motive that rests in one tonal area as it moves in a layered motion. The band embellishes on this motive as the percussion section joins the mix to provide the steady pulse of the work. Once the groove for the work is set, the vocalist enters to provide the lyrical content of the first verse. Similar to the first piece, the instrumentals during the verse are used to enhance certain moments within the melodic line, which will make certain thoughts and phrases stick out to the audience. As the band shifts to the chorus of the work, the volume of the ensemble gradually decreased before quickly growing to provide the audience with a cheerful chorus. Throughout the chorus, the band switches back and forth between the different vocalists within the band to provide vocal contrast. This will help to break up the work, symmetrically speaking, and will give the audience a new set of tone colors to enjoy. As one listens throughout the track, it is heard that the band utilizes different percussion elements such as the tambourine. This helps the band to expand on their genre influences, and this helps to show their audience that they are capable of stretching their musicianship to provide them with music they’ve never heard before. Towards the end of the work, the band drops in instrumentation as they fall in to a spin off verse. This verse starts off in a relaxed state, and it slowly evolves to give the audience a grander approach to the chorus that has been presented throughout the selection.

 “I Hate the Gooey Disk” starts with a string motive that utilizes silence to break up the different proportions of the musical phrase. The percussion section enters after a few seconds subtly to enhance certain points of the musical idea presented by the strings. This remains static until the vocals are about to enter, for in those coming moments, the percussion begins to supply more rhythmic content to create a groove that works to keep the track leaning forward continuously. The vocals that enter follow the same mold as the previous pieces on the album; meaning, there are moments where the vocal line is sung with a clear, crisp tone color, and there are also moments where some of the vocals utilize a more strained technique. As the band prepares to transition into the chorus of the work, the overall vibe of the song drops to give the audience a moment to breathe, musically speaking, which makes the chorus feel as if it is leaps and bounds greater, in terms of musical excitement, compared to the first verse. The chorus picks up pace as the vocalists use their back and forth tactic with an elaborate instrumental background part to support them. The second verse of the track is much different than the first, for the band sticks with the juxtaposition of vocal types as they rapidly fire lyrics back and forth. This is supported by a quicker groove being supplemented by the instrumental section. The band will take another run through the chorus before they shift to a small instrumental feature that focuses on quicker rhythmic elements between both the strings and the percussion section. Overtop this, the vocals join in with a call and response technique, while using the strained vocals, to give the audience a new dimension within the work. This takes the audience back to the chorus with limited instrumentation until the full instrumental ensemble returns to help drive to the end.

“The Soundtrack To Missing a Slam Dunk” starts with vocals from the very first beat of the selection. The vocals are backed up by a faint groove that is led by heavy hits on the strong beats of each musical phrase provided by the instrumental section. From the very beginning, it is apparent that this track is going to be extremely memorable, for the way that the initial vocals enter, they capture the audience’s interest in a snap, and that’ll make them want to keep listening. After the initial phrase, the instrumental ensemble elaborates on the groove that they set in the beginning of the work. As they take their motives and expand on them, it is heard that the band is, again, pulling from a variety of techniques used throughout different genres of music, which will help to drive home the memorability of the track as well as its diversity. Before the band moves to the chorus of the work, they include a small layering effect of vocal ideas, which makes the lyrical content come through quicker, and it gives the work a see-saw type feel, which is completely new for the album. From here, the band shifts to the chorus where they provide the audience with a catchy melodic line that follows a nice rise and fall, melodically speaking. The band then includes a blurb of instrumental material to act as a transition to the second verse, which mimics the format of the first verse. The second run of the chorus is also similar to the first; however, this isn’t bad for the artist, for it was so memorable the first time, why change it? After the second chorus, the band spins into an elaborate instrumental breakdown that allows the instrumentalists to enhance the motives they’ve used throughout the entire track. This will eventually move back to the chorus; however, instead of ending the work with the chorus as it was originally stated, the band heightens the ending to make for an exciting conclusion. This is a foreseen favorite from the album, for it is overly memorable, and it falls across several musical genres, which widens its appeal to the masses.

“Pluto Was Never Really a Planet Either Even” starts with a shift in mood as the band provides the audience with a small string motive that is heard at a lower dynamic mixed with darker tone colors. This is furthered when the vocalist enters for the first time; meaning, when the vocalist first sings, he focuses on shaping the musical phrase while keeping the melodic content in the calmer category. This helps to keep the vibe of the song relaxed while giving the audience a more solemn approach to the lyrical line. Although the vocalist is mainly providing a melodic line that remains static within its pitch range, he does provide some expansion, which helps to bring out the key points within the story he is telling through his lyrics. Right before the band reaches the middle of the selection, they include a small grand pause. This acts as a solid point of closure for the first musical idea of the work. This is then proceeded by a small percussion motive that helps to pick up the pace slightly before moving into the second half of the track. The second half of the track is led by an instrumental feature that leads the audience into a heightened melodic line provided by the primary vocalist of the band. Throughout these moments, the second vocalist adds dimension through strong harmonies, which gives the melodic line more life. When the band moves towards the end, the instrumental section becomes fully involved to make for a strong crash before the band falls back down to a solemn state to close the track. This is one of the most dynamic pieces on the album, for it gives the audience a roller coaster of dynamics and vocal techniques to attach to, which will make it a standout, for sure.

“Wes Dault Can’t Find the Madison Falcon” starts with a rapid instrumental break that changes the pace of the album quickly. This is driven home by the heavy nature of articulation used throughout the instrumental ensemble as a whole. The breakdown seems rather strict until a vocal “hey” is shouted, and after that moment, the instrumentalists spin off their strict ways, and they take their original thoughts and shape them in an even livelier manner. When the vocals enter, they have the same approach as the other tracks on the album, for they provide the listeners with a constant back and forth in some moments, and a simple rise and fall in the others. The vibe of the work remains the same as they transition into the chorus. One of the main standout traits of this selection up until this point is the fact that a large chunk of the vocal content supplied on this track utilizes the strained, practically yelled (with a solid pitch behind it) vocal technique. This gives the audience a more aggressive but not angry song to attach to. As one moves throughout the work, it is heard that the instrumental section often links up with the vocalists in certain points to enhance the lyrical content by moving in a homorhythmic fashion. This simplifies the overall picture of the selection in specific points to allow the lyrical content to shine. Additionally, the band often uses silence within the track to give the audience a moment to breathe before they morph into the large than life verses or instrumental features. The conclusion of the work comes from a restated chorus that pushes all the way to the very end.

“*whispers* Thank You” starts with vocals from the very first second of the selection. The vocals are joined by a small string motive at first before the percussion joins the party to mimic a similar style to what the string section is providing. After the first quick vocal moment, the instrumental ensemble comes together to form a groove that can be interrupted as both a common time driven groove or a half-time feel groove. This is a cool crossover technique provided by the band, for it gives the song a bit of an elusive vibe, which is something not many artists can pull off, and it’s something brand new for the album. When the vocals become present again, the vocalist uses vocals that fall in the middle to higher part of his vocal range. This gives him more freedom to move back and forth between both vocal techniques, and this range complements the elaborate nature of the instrumental section. The chorus of the work provides the audience with less lyrical content, which is different than most of the previous tracks. This is a smart inclusion because it allows the instrumental section to remain as strong as they are, volume wise, without having to compromise any melodic or lyrical content. Following the chorus, the band drops in volume for a few seconds. This comes across almost shocking, for the rest of the piece has been so high strung; however, the band only stays in this mood for a few seconds before abruptly moving back to the normal heightened nature of the work. This gives the listeners an even higher amount of contrast within a diverse track. As the band moves towards the end of the work, they play with the adding and subtracting of instrumentation to allow certain vocals to reign in isolation, but the full band eventually bonds together to drive the audience to the end.

 “Good Ol’ Mr. Rags” starts with three major hits across the instrumental section that is broken up by a rapid riff provided by the string section. From here, the instrumentalists spin off on their own musical ideas to create an ornate instrumental breakdown to create the groove of the work; however, the instrumentalists do come together here and there to add cohesion to the work by returning to that three-hit motive. The vocals enter once the groove of the work is established and maintained. When they enter, the instrumentation drops in volume to add dynamic contrast to the work as well as to allow the vocals to shine through their first appearance on the piece. The chorus of the work follows a similar format to those of previous selections. The main striking point of this chorus is the fact that both vocalists seem to be continuously harmonizing with one another as they both remain in the middle part of their range. This gives the audience a thicker texture to hold on to, for the weighted tone color will portray that type of feeling to the listeners. In the middle of the track, the band includes the beginning interlude material to transition to the second half of the work. The second half takes the vocalist’s range and places it in the middle to higher part of it. This will enhance the heightened nature of the track, especially as the band moves back to the chorus. Near the end of the work, the band includes a drop in instrumentation, so much so that the only timbre that is truly heard is a small bassline. This only remains as so for a few seconds before the beginning instrumental feature is reintroduced to take the audience to the end the work.

 “Scream Mountain” starts with vocals from the very beginning of the work. The vocals reign in isolation for a few moments before the strings enter to enhance the natural statw of the vocalist’s melodic line. After a few moments, the entire instrumental ensemble enters together following a grand pause. When they enter, the band spins into a small instrumental interlude that is soon joined by the vocalist to guide the audience through the first verse of the selection. As the band moves through the initial melodic content, it is heard that the instrumentals pair up with the vocal contour to provide a cohesive picture for the audience through a high pointed minimalist technique. During the chorus of the selection, the band provides the audience with a quicker subdivision of the beat. This helps to forward the momentum of the piece as well as give the audience a new supportive approach to attach to. In the middle of the track, the band drops the tempo by including a relaxed groove that is led by minimal movement throughout the band as a whole. This allows the vocals to shine while giving the audience a completely different approach to the same melodic idea that was previously stated. As the band begins to near the end, the instrumentation completely drops out to leave vocals singing at a distance. From there, the vocals begin to trail off more and more as the song finally comes to a close.

“How Do You Know It’s Not Armadillo Shells?” starts with vocals from the first downbeat of the work. Similar to the previously selection, the strings join the initial vocals to complement them as they ride side by side with the first vocals. The vocals that are present from the beginning of the track follow the natural contour of the vocalists vocal-type, which gives the audience a memorable line to attach to. This remains static throughout the first verse When the band moves to the chorus of the work, the string section embellishes on the simple nature of its motivic idea to create a new type of groove for the album. As the band moves throughout the chorus, it is heard that the strings still complement the vocal line, for they set the vocals up to punch the audience with catchy lyrics through memorable moments that standout due to their simple-complex nature. As the band ends the chorus, the percussion section joins faintly. When they join, they provide hits on the strong beats of each musical phrase in a muffled manner. This is okay for this track, for the vocals of this work are contained until they begin to move towards the end of the selection. Therefore, as the percussion section becomes more prevalent, the entire band is able to expand on the melodic content that they’ve previously presented. They are able to do so by the vocalist exchanging vocal techniques as the instrumental section goes to town on their provided content. The synthesizer joins the fun to help bring the song to a close as it is paired with the instrumental section and the vocalist.

 “There Was a Semi Fight On I-69” starts with an instrumental feature that focuses on the string section with the steady pulse being provided by the percussion section through a cymbal timbre. The band doesn’t stay on the same instrumental idea for long, for after a few seconds the band takes that idea and extrapolates on it, so that the audience doesn’t get bored with their initial presentation. When the vocals enter, they quickly press back and forth between both vocal types as the instrumental section continues with their elaborate nature just at a lower volume to allow the vocals to shine. Right before the band reaches the chorus of the work, they include a small transition moment that provides moments of solely instrumental content and other moments with screamed vocals. This gives the audience a nice sense of contrast, for the melodic content that follows this second is half sung and the other half utilizes the spoken-word technique. This is completely different than everything else on this album; thus, it will likely stick in the minds of the listeners. This moment transitions the audience back into the chorus, which is presented in a heightened fashion, for the vocals sit in the higher part of the vocalist’s range as the instrumentation remains ornate. From this, the band takes a quick shift in tempo where the pace increases slightly. This is led by the instrumental section as the percussion section moves to provide the audience with the quick subdivisions as the strings give the audience a small melodic idea to resonate with. This instrumental feature remains constant until the audience reaches the very end of the album. This was a strong closing selection for the album, for it gives the audience a little bit of everything the band has to offer, musically speaking, and it is quite memorable.

 Final Thoughts: Overall, I would give this album a 5 out of 5 stars. I am giving this album such a score for a vast amount of reasons. The first reason is because each song presented on this album is conceptionally solid, and they are enjoyable to listen to. The second reason I landed on this score is because Hot Mulligan is going to be one of the next big hits to come through this scene because of this album, for they are one of the only bands who can take musical genres and bend them to work together to create a wondrous cohesive idea. Furthermore, if you want a new band to fall in love with, and you enjoy a good synthesizer; this is the album for you. Nice work!!

*”Pilot” was released on March 23, 2018 through No Sleep Records.

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