The Fish Rap Live!
Volume 5, Issue 12 / April 26, 1995

The Mudkats
Solana Records

THE world is a cauldron of socially constructed biases and values. From the minute you're born to the second they sign your death certificate, you live with labels. But every once in a while a band comes around that transcends the categorical imperatives America swims through daily. The Mudkats are such a band.

Consisting of only two stable members, Jon Luini and Eric Friedman, the Mudkats are a concise musical force. The songs on the independently-released Semivintage are tightly woven southern/country/pop/alternative gems. Trying to put these guys in a little box with a name tag would be pointless. They draw from so many wells that their collective musical water is nothing short of eclectic.

[The Mudkats] The Mudkats in their current form; Eric Friedman (vocals, guitar), Jon Luini (bass, vocals), and Scott Van Schoick (drums, vocals)

Friedman, who handles guitar, keyboard, drums, and vocal duties, seems to be the creative power behind this project. Every track is sonically compelling and certainly worth more critical acclaim than mediocre artists like the Counting Crows. The most likely reason the Mudkats haven't been picked up by a major label is the average lyrical content and vocal prowess displayed by the multi-talented Friedman. Granted certain artists feel the need to tackle every aspect of their musical visions alone, Friedman could benefit from incorporating a strong frontman. What's Motley Crue without Vince Neil, Van Halen without David Lee Roth, or the Mary Chain without Jesus?

The most impressive offering on Semivintage is the ten minute opus, "Raina Da Cappo Finally." The song captures the band working in saucy jazz bits that lull the listener into a state of sleepy euphoria. About halfway through, they pick it up and rock this town, rock it inside out. This track also showcases Luini's bass playing more than any other. Luini's sense of rhythm and measure comes through like sunshine through the stained glass windows of the Crystal Cathedral on songs like "The Big Muddy" and "Smile on Miss Laura.."

Why do bands that deserve to rot in hell for all eternity, like the Counting Crows, rise to the top of the corporate rock ladder while bands like The Mudkats sit in obscurity, waiting and hoping for the recognition they so richly deserve. Don't let the executives at the major labels control your life. Support independent music.

You can contact Solana Records for a catalogue by writing to 2440 Great Highway #5, San Francisco, CA 94116.

--Scott Warden
Staff Writer

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