Dangermuffin is one of those bands whose name you hear everywhere. The Charleston-based threesome has turned into a foursome, and they have a new album coming out on Friday, titled Heritage. Dangermuffin shows that the Low country knows how to get down, in a down home kind of way. They’re touring far and wide through June, with dates in Atlanta, the Carolinas, and beyond.
The album begins with “Ode To My Heritage”. Imagine a sweltering night on the porch, punctuated by the quiet clicking of moths hitting the light bulb. That’s what the opening bare vocals sound like. Things get swinging with percussion, syncopation, and strings. The twangy guitar will teach anyone who says they can’t dance otherwise, and the vocals are packed with the insistence of persisting youth, despite what the calendar may say.
Curious bass plays peek-a-boo with the percussion in “Waves”, a track that throws scenes of estuaries and tranquil days on Sullivan’s Island into my mind’s eye. Lyrics touch upon something deeper, with perceptive diction and the detachment that those just figuring out their own relative unimportance yearn to win in a cosmic game of blackjack. The guitar plays like the porpoises at Folly, oblivious to the large land mammals clad in synthetic stripes drinking Bacardi out of red plastic cups while playing bocce with the other hand. I suddenly crave crab cakes.
The lyrics of “Ancient Family” are delivered in a way that reminds me of John Wozniak’s unhurried demeanor in both albums I remember Marcy Playground releasing back in their heyday. But the sunny chords are so, so Charleston. Not the Charleston with the alcoholic women who have lost count of the years they have dyed their aging hair blonde in between swipes of their black luxury credit cards. I’m talking about the Charleston where finding a five-dollar bill on the sunny sidewalk once made my day, the Charleston where the library accepts canned goods instead of money for overdue books, and the very same Charleston where I could get a wagyu beef sandwich on a two-hour lunch as I watched the cargo ships loaded with shipping containers set off for distant lands.
“The Sea and the Rose” has a calm, quiet sound that is meant to be enjoyed in silence with someone you care about. Dan Lotti’s vocals are relaxing, but not unforgettable. The percussion, impeccably performed by Markus Helander, goes with the guitar like hot fudge goes with walnuts. Textures, temperatures, and tastes mix and mingle and the result is delicious.
The next track, “Ol’ Fidel”, features the line “Ol’ Fidel, if you got it then you got it in the ocean.” With a ska beat, the track is understated but takes a wild journey backwards through evolution and onward into the future, however distant that may be. (If our culture could view time as taking a more circular route, perhaps seeing the connections between the past and future wouldn’t be as difficult as some people find it to be.)
“Kindred Sun” has the polished melding of melody with lyrics as something that Beck might release, but without the depressing dirge-like quality. In fact, “Kindred Sun” is pretty optimistic. With guitar that you can warm (and perhaps even muddy) your toes to, the track is engineered for a slow but profound enjoyment, like the kind that accompanies a chocolate éclair that you wish could last forever.
With an upbeat tone, “Methuselah’s Song” plays hopscotch with guitar chords. It progresses like the circuit at the Saturday morning farmer’s market in Marion Square. The air smells of doughnuts, and everything you set your eyes upon is tempting, but just taking a walk in the fresh air while getting some good people-watching in is pleasure enough.
The album concludes with “One Last Swim,” a track that moves like water. It flows everywhere, bouncing against hard surfaces, but never losing its energy. The track shows that no matter what Dangermuffin does, the band will always have the potential to create music that is uplifting, perfect for barefoot dancing, and as jam-worthy as a hot biscuit. The vocals and guitar motor swell like the puddles on Broad Street during a hurricane, and I am glad I delved into Heritage.
Dangermuffin has the sound that accompanies all the best warm-weather road trips, especially if they involve dirty hair, salty lips, and sleeping in tents. Or just staying where you are (as long as it’s sunny). For a sixth album, Heritage is no slouch. Take a quiet half hour to give it a listen. It just may prolong your life.
2017 Dangermuffin Tour Dates
03/30/17 – Smith’s Olde Bar – Atlanta, GA
03/31/17 – Gottrocks – Greenville, SC
04/01/17 – Isis Music Hall – Asheville, NC
04/07/17 – Ashley St. Station – Valdosta, GA
04/08/17 – String Break – Brooksville, FL
04/12/17 – American Beauty – New York, NY
04/13/17 – World Cafe Live–Philly, PA
04/14/17 – Gypsy Sally’s – Washington, DC
04/18/17 – Woodlands Tavern – Columbus, OH
04/19/17 – The Burl – Lexington, KY
04/22/17 – Willow Tree Coffee House – Johnson City, TN
04/28/17 – The Palm Room – Wrightsville Beach, NC
04/29/17 – The Lincoln Theatre w/ Greg Humphreys Band – Raleigh, NC