Around 2002, I found a new desire to write songs with vocals again. This is when the sonic foundation of Mutronium began to take shape ... slowly ! I had written and recorded "I'm All Over You" and "Connected" playing all the instruments. I had produced and engineered some cool demos for NYC band Ambulance Ltd back in 2001 which lead them to getting signed. So I asked Ambulance Ltd original members Marcus Congleton and David Longstreth to sing background vocals on my two songs. I got Kurtis Hannas to do some lead guitar.
Right around this time I started playing synth and background vocals for NY band Orion (later to be called The Orion Experience). We played a bunch of live gigs and performed on Fearless Music TV show, but I never saw it when it aired.
Mutronium really started when ordering drinks at the bar at The Luna Lounge for the Monday "Eating It" alternative comedy show, I was introduced to Terre T and she started telling me about her radio show "Cherry Blossom Clinic" on WFMU. I gave her my two song Mutronium CD and was surprised when she contacted me a week later saying she loved it and began playing it every week afterwards. In her "End Of The Year Poll" in 2004 she made it her #2 Favorite Demo of the year !
At this time Terre T had asked me to play live on her show, but I didn't have a band. I was trying to find musicians, but wasn't having any luck. I asked Kurtis Hannas to play guitar and we got Scott "Rio" Bendzlowiz on rhythm guitar. We went through a few drummers, I was singing and playing synth, but the live band wasn't right.
In 2005 we released the Mutronium EP to great reviews in magazines and blogs. Terre T was playing all the songs off the CD on her show. Also at this time I started re-mastering all the Hefner CD's for Darren Haymen to release as double disc CD's. It was a massive undertaking, sifting through over 700 songs. It was a labour of love, really, but I was very busy. Eventually Scott left, so I moved over to guitar and we got Lara Feldman on synth and Patrick Rankin on drums. The live band started to take shape with me fronting on guitar instead of behind a synthesizer. "I'm All Over You" was included in indie film "Who Is KK Downey?" in the high school dance sequence.
2006 saw us forming the Nu-Artskool nights in NYC. We really wanted people to come down and stay the whole night and see all the bands playing. To expose them to films, art, music and fashion. We were tired of playing with bands that were musical polar opposites to us and wanted people who were coming to see us be able to enjoy some of the other bands instead of hightailing it out of there. The bands didn't all sound alike, but they shared a sense of experimenting away from the norm. We acquired New York film legend Nick Zedd to provide the "art" films, which were quite graphic, so you'd always come away from a Nu-Artskool night with something to talk about.
Artwork by Dean Hannas
Photos by Will Ragozzino
As the northeastern United States settles into a deep freeze, it's probably a good idea to break out some summery pop for the sake of escapism.
This song is an excellent Cars pastiche complimented by some noisy lead guitar straight out of the Joey Santiago playbook and dynamic programmed percussion that flirts with Big Beat, but remains grounded in contemporary power pop. In terms of pop-rock music, this is the song to beat in 2005 !
If The Cars' Ric Ocasek had fronted the Pixies - or if Neil Young was the lead singer of The Cars - what they would've sounded like is realized in Mutronium. As bizarre as those combinations seem, they vividly describe this oddball band.
"I'm All Over You" opens with Jesus & Mary Chain-esque doomy percussion that quickly dissolves into herky-jerky power pop. Vocalist Joel Neumatic has, intentionally or not, resurrected Ocasek's detached cool while the guitars slash and burn a la the Pixies. It's a formula that the group utilizes throughout the EP, but there's nothing wrong with sticking to a style that works effectively; after all, the Ramones built a career around it.
On "Connected," Mutronium recall The Cars even more as the Neumatic's voice takes an even icier tone. There have been numerous artists compared to The Cars throughout the decades; however, none have captured the Boston band's nervous energy as well as Mutronium.
But Mutronium is not some retro act; they're simply being faithful to the true definition of alternative rock, picking up where it left off before the grunge explosion.
For a lifelong New Wave fan, one just can’t get enough of the current ‘80s revival. Youthful bands such as Franz Ferdinand, the Killers, the Pin-Up Girls, the Bravery, and the Kaiser Chiefs have resuscitated rock & roll from over a decade of widespread blandness and obnoxious screaming. Add Mutronium to the list of rebels.
On their self-titled, self-released five-track EP, the trio dusts off The Cars’ clash of chilly synthesizers and AOR guitars and gives it a Pixies post-punk burst of manic energy. The Cars and the Pixies are obvious influences - blatant inspirations - but hearing the two styles together is a blast. “I’m All Over You” starts with a déjà vu riff that may have been lifted, subconsciously or not, from The Cars’ “Double Life” and then explodes into a power-pop firecracker that’ll have aging New Wavers doing the pogo across the room. Even better is “Connected” which borrows from the Ric Ocasek songbook a little deeper - check out those cold, alienated vocals - while reaching speeds that The Cars never did.
Squiggly keyboards and chunky bass lines fuel “Square Mile”, and “Wicked Girl” is so New Wave that Johnny Slash from Square Pegs TV show would’ve remarked, “That is so New Wave”. And the group simply doesn’t slow down. The closing tune, “Trilateral” is pedal-to-the-floor fun.
I got this CD by accident, and what a beautiful accident it turned out to be. The opening track, "I'm All Over You", has an underlying 60's girl group groove and sounds like the Pixies would have if they had been an 80's synth band. And then there's the voice, whose warped tones hypnotize. It sounds like it shouldn't work, but there isn't a bad track on the EP. You must listen to this band.
I'm All Over You - This song just begs to be featured in one of those hip ads for a new car.
Mutronium consist of Joel Neumatic and Kurt Bordeaux, who both relocated from the UK to NYC. Their music is very radio friendly indie-pop with slices of electro thrown in. They instantly remind me of Pavement gone electro.
So without further ado, here are twelve songs released in 2005 that are, in the words of Judy Jetson, "the most ut."
#11. Mutronium - I'm All Over You. Wow. This is the best Cars song The Cars never wrote.