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Mudbelly - Single/Video Review: On Fire

06 Dec 2018 // A review by Kris Raven

The whole 'rock is dead thing' is becoming a little painful to hear these days. Sure, we get it, mainstream rock is dead to some, but like the rest of the world, NZ has some incredible rock music! And in so many fine forms. This brings me to Hypnumb, a four-piece rock and blues hybrid from one of NZ’s most renowned rock music hubs, Christchurch. I had not heard them until recently when I saw they were playing in Auckland this weekend.

Starting with some fairly hypnotic hand claps, On Fire has a super upbeat feel and once Bex B’s vocals hit, the whole song is elevated to another level. Her vocals are the standout on the track, reminds a little of a less gruff Amy Winehouse or Americas blues queen Bonnie Raitt, there is a lot of attitude in the storytelling and she commands throughout the song, leaving a very strong impression as a vocal force to be reckoned with.

Musically they perfectly mould classic blues guitar and rock roll together, the opening riff is familiar and hooky. Leading into the pre-chorus we are treated to a tasty guitar solo from guitarist Jesse Bruce, its effective and not overdone and who doesn’t love that Gibson Les Paul sound. The drums from the intro and throughout hold the beat, nothing flashy but doing what is needed for the song. Then the pace picks up for the chorus and leads into a groovy and dancey rhythm with a memorable vocal melody, driving up and up and getting ready to rev into the next section.

But it comes back down into the second verse, still maintaining pace with the hand claps and tambourine driving the rhythm and letting the vocals and guitars shine throughout. It's a good balancing act in terms of intensity and building throughout, keeps us guessing. Another highlight of the chorus is the background vocals, again simple but effective and judging from the accompanying video are sung by drummer Johnny Arillaga, drummer/vocalists are always fun to watch (not biased at all).

The recording feels quite low-fi, possibly out of choice. It works for the song, but I would have preferred a bit more punch from the rhythm section, some bigger kicks and bass. The bass seems fairly low in the mix but again is carrying the song with the drums and keeping a solid foundation for the layers of guitar, vocal and melody. 

As well as the single, there is a video accompaniment. The main narrative being the all too familiar waking up after the party, the hangover, the regrets maybe? It has quite the comedic streak, people either passed out or still going hard, weird people doing weird things, it has a relatable aspect to it and certainly the post party apocalypse vibe. Quick cuts keep the action moving during the verse section and when we move into the chorus, the live show performance captures the whole band and audience and it works really well with the high/low dynamics of the song. I felt like the lighting in the performance was really effective and gave the video another boost of energy. My favourite scene is the bar shot, which includes some moon walking and Hypnumb's very entertaining drummer Johnny Arillaga, who has been providing not only the hungover tambourine throughout but shows off his drink stacking.

According to the bands Facebook page, they established themselves late 2017 and I must say for a new band they have certainly developed a solid, gritty, bluesy boogie and all out rock and roll sound.  Certainly, a band to keep an eye out for in 2019 and a band I look forward to seeing live.

Rating: ( 4 / 5 )
 

About Mudbelly

Mudbelly. It's a name.

To make up for that fact our band name sounds like a skin disease, we've had to claw our way to the top of our craft the hard way. If we were ever invited to define ourselves in the Oxford Dictionary: Power-rockin, ball-bustin, whisky-whackin ninjas of blues laden rock would be in our top three.

Fronted by Bex, swaggering rock banshee who won her voice in a poker game with the devil, together with Jesse-the-Ledge(guitar), Clarabell (bass) and John (drums), the sound....just sounds right.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Mudbelly

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