‘Hand Me Down Miracles’ - The Mascot Theory - ‘a complete album’(October 10, 2014)
Ever wondered what a mix of pure-blood Americana folk overlaid with punchy rock in conjunction with surefooted songwriting suffused with razor sharp harmonies sounds like? Listen to this album, it’s all the introduction you need. ‘Hand Me Down Miracles’ from The Mascot Theory punches with the aggression of an angry street-brawler combined with the artistry and footwork of an expert fighter. There’s hard driving bass, rippling guitars, heavy-hitting drums, raunchy vocals and ‘tight as teeth’ harmonies. They also show no fear in exposing a softer side both musically and lyrically. You can easily call this ‘a complete album’.
Without waxing too lyrical, the track listing is universally good, which makes picking favourites to review in only a few paragraphs both easy and hard. Easy - there’s not one single filler-track, hard - deciding which to leave out. From the fast paced ‘When I Drift Away’ offering a taste of what’s coming, through the drum barrage that drives ‘My Eyes See’beneath the sharp fiddle breaks, to the organ embellished guitar drive of ‘Sun It Rises’ this music pulls you in.
The restrained start and tough narrative of ‘Monterey’ - simple guitar backing lead vocal - builds into a devastatingly affecting message with the band in full flow and trumpet accents placed to perfection. A softer resonance flows through the questions in ‘I’m A Front Porch’, the toe-tapper ‘Avalanche Of Fortune’ mixes straightforward advice “No sense in counting pennies when you’re buried under dimes” with sharp mandolin cuts. The palpable sense of loss that echoes through ‘One Last Train’ is emphasised by its longing fiddle breaks, and the reflective story of ‘Hey Jealousy’ hits hard with harmonica amplifying the pain the lyrics convey, while ‘Trying To Reach You’ must be a sure-fire, live-set favourite.
The Mascot Theory are Erik Kjelland(lead vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica) Nick Fry(upright bass, vocals) Adam White(electric guitar, vocals) and Paul Metz(drums, percussion, vocals) also playing on selected tracks on ‘Hand Me Down Miracles’ are Mark Oberfoell(steel guitar, banjo, mandolin) Peter Keys(organ) Walker Young (accordion) Scarlett Rische (mandolin) Kenny Leiser(violin, fiddle) Ryan Werntz (trumpet) and Beth Kille (vocals).
And to Tom Franks who introduced me to The Mascot Theory (and explained the name) - thanks mate, I’m damn glad you did.
This is where you’ll find The Mascot Theory: themascottheory.com
Reviewer: Tim Carroll