Philadelphia is a lovely city full of delightful people, wonderful history, a big statue of Rocky, and this incredible Italian pork sandwich that beats out any cheese steak I ever had. Don't take my word for it, go eat one. Beyond all that though is an inventive and lively music scene comprised of great venues and some massive talent. Always in the mood for something new, I was recently introduced to the dreamy space jam sounds of Muscle Tough. These guys have a new record out called Modern Romance and if you dig those space-heavy jams like I do, this might just be your bag right here.
This is the third record for the trio, following up their 2016 EP release, "Greasin’ Up The Mediocrity Wheel” and 2017’s full length, “Magical Achievements”. The band has had some great guest appearances and played with some heavy hitters on stage, and has been reviewed as a delightful and hilarious band to catch. They are obviously good at what they do musically and have some incredibly inventive concepts. The fact that this is clearly not a band that takes themselves too seriously, and thank God for that, is what cemented them for me. There are more than enough of those on the scene so coming across what these guys are putting out there, front and center, was an incredible relief. Immediately upon seeing that, I was in.
This record is imaginative. Muscle Tough is not a band that is out to carbon copy scenesters and heavy hitters and pass it off as their own. These guys want to make their own mark, and they have. What a shit ton of fun this record is! I am loving the track Down To Clown. First off – what? Where are these titles coming from and why are they so perfect? Second, what? Where are these sounds coming from? There is this very 80’s video game inspired guitar thing happening in this song over these groove heavy bass lines and kicking drums. They get straight up weird but I can’t imagine that dancing to this live is anything but a good freaking time.
Move on along to the track Waiting for Bae. It starts off sweet and gentle, maybe a little seductive? Kind of a, "Hey baby. Come sit down here next to me." kind of vibe. Don’t get too comfortable though, because the song progresses with some fantastic guitar work. The groove is steady straight through. We Met On Chat Roulette is another great track, with a skipping tempo and a really cool groove. The bass does this really cool almost walking drop behind the guitar at times. I like the way these songs move. Right about halfway through, this song kicks wide open AND RIPS before dropping back into the groove a little harder. Very well done. There is nothing stagnant in what they are doing at all. They never get too spacey before they kick back in. There is just constant movement.
My favorite song on this album is Say Yes To The Mess. Aside from the obvious parallels to my blog (I mean, hello!), this song is an incredibly fun roll through musical chaos. It’s speedy tempo and twirly guitar sounds make one think of spinning in circles on the merry go round on the playground. That one they banned because you could seriously hurt yourself flying off of it at high speeds, which was half the fun. This song is incredibly fun. The 'get up out of your chair and dance with no form and arms flailing around the room' kind of fun. Before long though, this track gets into a super trippy groove. These guys must be party to see live, and honestly, I can't wait.
I really dig this record. There is so much out there that sounds so much alike that there is something so refreshing when you come across a band determined to be skilled and yet so different. I love the references to the complete nonsense of dating in the song titles, and I especially love how the music finds its way to interlace in those concepts and ideas. It’s awesome when an instrumental band can paint pictures with their music, and this is a band that can do it with their humor as much as their talent. This record is just great, and I am highly recommending it.
I was delighted to see that they will be on the 2019 Disc Jam lineup for the festival in Stephentown, NY this June. The Disc Jam folks have put so much amazing music in our laps the last two years that we have gone, so it’s really no surprise to see these guys on there. The festival is a good damn time every year. I hope they like tacos.
These guys have some really cool shows all over the place leading up to Disc Jam, including a Road To Disc Jam show with the amazing Rob Compa Trio at Electric Haze in Worcester, MA on May 10th! If I were you, I would get my booty to that show and give it a good shaking! You can check out all their dates and get more information at their website HERE. Get out there and get some great live music, and pick up the new release from Muscle Tough!