The Mongrels’ putative leader Tim Avram gave me the deep end storyline about their current release. He covers a lot of ground lyrically, both thoughtful and profane, while keeping a breakneck beat that is locked into the tightest rhythm section since Green Day kicked up the speed to overdrive. The record is about holding on to this planet while technology and computers are in the driver’s seat. Avram says, “It’s basically about how screwed up I think the world is.”
The disc opens with Survival on Planet Earth. The lyrics show the way: “Money, government; supply and demand. Failed attempts on making the world run smoothly.” This is a punk anthem filled with righteous anger. As Avram screams the clipped cadence pounds out an ominous beat “We didn’t plan on ruining our little rock.” It’s really about the intelligence of men without wisdom and the fate of mankind. Avram issues a warning, “get your ducks in a row, machines are out there committing crimes!” It ends in a clever wordplay, “It flows so smoothly like a grenade in a wedding cake.”
Purgatory opens quietly, guitar and bass drop in and the cadence picks up triple time as if there’s not enough air to capture a breath. Avram says, “It is easier to make war on an enemy than make peace with yourself. The song is about every local music scene across the country. When you’re young you what you don’t realize what you’re getting yourself into. I guess we are all stuck here and we ain’t getting out too soon.” For Avram the song is like a catholic confessional that is difficult to say, yet soothing to the soul.
Get off My Lawn is about the natural transition from local phenom rocker to an elder statesman who’s stuck doing coffee shops for nickels and dimes. There is a decent crowd of twenty or more clap politely, and sip de-caffeinated. The rocker has been around for a while. Get off My Lawn is a taken from a chapter in Clint Eastwood’s playbook. It points fingers and takes names. The “F” word becomes a mantra that transforms into a psalm of dark beauty and fear; it is a punk rock anthem, totally delicious. The rocker has been around for a while and he knows the score. It’s about how he looks at all these young boogaloo dudes.
Act One is an ancient ska song that Avram fashioned into a nice little rock & roll ditty complete with an insistent beat, circular guitars and sold backbeat courtesy of Mr. Shane Swank. Aloneness and friendship find a middle path. It begs the question, are you really alive?
One Drink is the writer’s cautionary tale about addiction. The song opens with heavy Black Sabbath guitar that heralds the news. Avram takes up this true story about his alcoholism and some of the things he’s done and why he has gained sobriety for several years now. He cites a litany of events – seizures, hospitalization, car wrecks and sickness. Avram is a blogger of the mind but his mind was blown. This is one of the most truthful and courageous musical statements since Eminem sought help from Elton John. Listen to the lyrics, “I thinks it’s fun in the beginning/I’ve got it Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad; I think it’s so easy to keep going/when the shaking starts.”
Evil is another song about the direction of the world, being so dependent on computers and robotics. Avram is choking out his angst and his fear. It’s a new voice and he speaks from the depths his soul. “When artificial intelligence creates its own religion and you decide the only thing better would be a death by a thousand cuts. Rise Zenith, decline and fall.”
Saginaw is an ode to our city. Avram says he honestly loves our stupid crime ridden town. This is a true punk masterpiece, angry and truthful, which is followed up by Everyone Falls, which is a love song that was excavated from an old record with Marx. It’s a loving tribute to our fallen comrade and a great sing-a-long! “I ruined everything to be what I could have been now/The tears you cry, destroy me when everyone falls.”
The Coda is entitled The Saint. It starts out with a solid Troggs (remember Wild Thing) backbeat. Klein and Avram punch it up several notches. Avram knows the score. This is a working man’s song in a world led by technology, everything is moving forward at warp speed and some of us are falling behind, holding on to the old ways. “You think we can’t touch paper/cause we can lift concrete/ you won’t be licking wounds/ we feel united don’t we?”
The Mongrels 4383 is the title of the disc. 4383 is the general latitude and longitude of mid-Michigan. It is a tribute from the Mongrels. They are happy to be from here!