Initially a duo consisting of frontman Dan Finnemore and drummer T-Bird Jones, Swampmeat expanded their sound when they expanded their lineup to include Richard March (Bentley Rhythm Ace, Pop Will Eat Itself) and guitarist Tommy Hughes (Terror Watts), becoming Swampmeat Family Band in the process.
The fruits of this leaping evolution is fully realised on ‘Muck!’, the follow-up to 2018’s ‘Too Many Things to Hide’. But because I have a full-time day-job and a family and am absolutely drowning in review submissions, like probably 95% of the releases of 2020, ‘Muck!’ bypassed me on its initial release in June. Is 6 months after release a bit soon for a deluxe edition? Maybe. Maybe not.
This new edition features the standalone single release ‘A Present for Me’, recorded during the same sessions, plus four live demo versions of songs on the album – and the bonus tracks are only available digitally, which is probably a good thing: imagine having bought the vinyl only for a new vinyl edition to land 6 months later!
‘Muck!’ is a bit of a mixed bag, with clear highs and equally a fair amount of mediocrity.
They’re at their best when they go full electric and really stomp out, as they do on ‘Over Your Head’, and the 60s pop / country crossover of ‘Monkey See Monkey Do’, and there’s a strong energy in evidence as channelled through some keen melodies and a vintage valve guitar sound. The garage rock ‘n’ roll rockout of ‘Friends in the Floor’ sure s groovy and it’s easy to get right into it.
The inclusion of trumpet on a handful of tracks makes for an unusual contrast with the standard slide guitar and twangsome fretwork, and it works particularly well on the moody instrumental ‘The Ballarat Ghost’.
But there’s a lot of middling acoustic-led country that’s melodic but unremarkable apart from some pleasant but unremarkable harmonies, and it’s almost like 2 Eps by 2 different bands
which may have worked better as a ‘rock’ side and a ‘country’ side, and while the bonus tracks are nice enough for serious fans, most of us can probably live without them.