Listen Up: Wednesday, September 05, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Mummydogs

Mummydogs (Frontier Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

Mummydogs’ opening track, with its guitar chatter and minimalist thump, gives you a clue: here’s a late-period Velvet Underground cover band. Then the vocals chime in, and another association comes to mind: it’s X! But in fairness to Guy and Johanna Kyser, the husband-and-wife team behind the Mummydogs, there’s more to the band than that — even though the pair shares the same kind of warm (him) and cool (her) dynamic as John Doe and Exene. (Better still, Mummydogs’ “Red Bandana” starts out with an allusion to the children’s song “Down by the Station,” a non sequitur that’s almost as absurd as X’s insertion of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in the middle of their big MTV video.)

For one thing, Guy’s got more grit in his voice than John ever did. While his voice isn’t as blasted as, say, Tom Waits’, it’s not as effete as Steve Wynn’s, either. There are some similarities between the Mummydogs and Wynn’s solo work, which makes sense, since Guy Kyser was the guiding light (or shade) behind Thin White Rope, a band that came out of the same mid-’80s L.A. “Paisley Underground” scene as Wynn’s Dream Syndicate. The VU comparison, on the other hand, isn’t really apt: the Mummydogs provide a lot more guitar crunch to go with the drone than the Velvets ever did (on record, anyway), and drummer Paul Takushi (the token Japanese guy, on drums no less — who woulda thunk?) uses way too many cymbals to be dismissed as a mere Mo Tucker clone.

The songs are dark, moody, brooding, and surprisingly powerful; Mummydogs wed acoustic and electric textures seamlessly. Not exactly party music, but not suicide soundtrack material, either. I had to listen for a full minute to “Ask Me No Questions” before I realized that it was a Johnny Thunders cover.


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