Hippies and I have never been on good terms. I hate them and they love me, such are our personality types. The Mammals are hippies, or at least retro-hippies. By that I don’t mean to limit them to the 1970s, as their unkempt roots stretch all the way back beyond the 1770s. Shifting from colonial stenography (“John Brown’s Dream”) all the way to the Jr. Bush administration (“Profit”) couldn’t be less of a problem for the band thanks to amazing musical proficiency and good song selections. The band’s acoustic guitar, banjo, fiddle arrangements seem ripe for perpetual hoe-down, but the darker hues of the slow burning tracks •- the Yo La Tengo-ish “69 Pleasant Street” and the medieval “Lady Margaret” — add reflective weight to the sardonic tone of the more Hee Haw-ian tracks.
Without a dogmatic adherence to authenticity (the band includes occasional electric guitars throughout and closes “Haircut Money” with oncoming feedback), Evolver is The Mammals gathering up the spirit of traditional Americana and projecting it through a 21st century lens. I don’t necessarily think the album’s title applies to any arrogant ambition on the band’s part to bring about a new phase in folk music. Rather it addresses the fact that music written two hundred years ago can stand seamlessly next to songs written two years ago. It’s a testament to the evolving, recycling nature of music. Though it’s killing me to say it: Well done, hippies, well done.
The Mammals: http://www.themammals.net/