Mint Wad Willy
A History of Guns and Liars
Mint Wad Willy – God Bless America (mp3)
Mint Wad Willy’s debut album “A History of Guns and Liars” definitely has a Southern Rock vibe to it. The dominant instrumental sound is artfully sloppy, distorted slide guitar. When I first listened to it, I’d think at the beginning of each song “Oh no here comes the Black Crowes!” (The only thing worse than a dirty hippie is a dirty hippy who drawls.)
Luckily this is only a momentary impression. Iowa City has a strong, long-standing roots rock aesthetic that discriminates between good excess and bad excess, and MWW walks that tightrope with grace. They might remind you of any number of Southern Rock icons, but they remind me more of The Band, who were northerners in love with indigenous folk music of the American South. Mint Wad Willy tries to find their way to the deep muddy central channel of American folk music, not content to paddle around in the shallows.
I’m not such a fan of the mellower side of MWW, for example “Takin It Slow.” As Woody Allen said, “if I get too mellow I ripen and then rot.” But starting with “50501” and “Oh My God,” these guys seem to find their mojo. The former brings The Band and mid-period Dylan to mind, the latter veers off into a spooky, messed up kind of country Gothic cabaret music. “Who’s laughing now we’re all dying?” indeed!
Just as a matter of personal taste I should hate Mint Wad Willy, with their echoes of the Allman Brothers and (shudder) Lynyrd Skynrd, but I’m kinda crazy about this CD. Maybe it’s because it’s noisier, ruder and meaner than anything those deep-fried dinosaurs do. Maybe it’s because they seem to be following their own crooked muse fearlessly. Either way, it’s a strong piece of work.