ALBUM REVIEW: Crustermutt is unleashed in unusual debut

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First Posted: 4/15/2014

As eclectic and eccentric as it is, Kingston-based act Crustermutt’s debut album “BloodWoodMetalBone” could only be the product of a single, cohesive voice. Music this arty, passionate, and weird doesn’t arise out of compromise.

Sure enough, Crustermutt is a one-man band, the brainchild of Arlyn Parlor. Perhaps the only thing more impressive than the purity of voice that “BloodWoodMetalBone” represents, though, is its textural complexity.

Proudly showing off the impact of Parlor’s three major cited influences – Nirvana, Modest Mouse, and the Pixies – without merely Xeroxing those bands’ signature styles, the eight tracks on “BloodWoodMetalBone” (nine, if you count bonus track “Prey”) prove mercurial both when compared to one another and within their own individual components.

“Moles Through Emotion” sounds like a punked-up ‘n’ beach-bleached version of the Deftones’ “Minerva,” while “Gunslinger (With a Hammer in My Hand)” paints a woozy Wild West parable in shades fluctuating between metallic grimness and dreamy folk flavoring. Where “Black Widow Blues” keeps things shadowy, a dark-yet-sexy stripped down dirge, “My Old Friend” favors cataclysm, exploring a Melvins-esque sludge metal crunch.

All throughout, Parlor delivers his vocals as if he was a psychic medium channeling long-departed spirits. He’s a dazed mystic reciting messages scrawled in ectoplasm. Jangly guitars and the jazzy, psychedelic anti-structure of the songs increase the sense of transcendental trippiness. Nevertheless, there’s always just enough tangibility to keep listeners rooted to the Earth, whether it be from the constant, driving, danceable drumbeats or the laidback, head bobbin’ outlaw grooves.

All told, sunny ‘n’ slightly shoegazey with a splash of Southern-friend spice, and made mean via extended passages of dissonant garage rock grime, Crustermutt certainly doesn’t sound like a one-man band.

Crustermutt ‘BloodWoodMetalBone’ Rating: W W W W