Album Review: Siri Undlin on Muddy Ruckus

Muddy Ruckus – Muddy Ruckus

by Siri Undlin

It’s almost as if the music of Muddy Ruckus arrives via portal. Drenched in vibrant metaphors, full-throated singing and guitar parts with unapologetic twang, this duo’s anachronistic music defies the confinement of any single time or place, instead revealing an enticing threshold into an other-world of overgrown hollows, moonshine bottles and flower-pressed miscreants dancing around a blazing bonfire. If a nose could hear, it’d smell like smoke.

Based in Portland, ME (but with strong ties to the Mississippi’s Quad Cities) they’ve toured nationally on the heels of their 2014 self-titled release. The first song off that album, “Crawl on the Ceiling” lays solid thematic ground as the duo sings “darkness and light / they are one in the same” and it’s this idea that shapes the album – the push and pull between shadows and sunshine, between unbridled sadness and uninhibited dancing. These songs compel us to realize that when we talk of yins and yangs, we’re approaching the same truth from different corners.

Devilish fiddle parts, spicy horn arrangements, and images like ruby-red lips and houses choking on smoke provide color for the dark whimsy their sound exudes. The quick pacing of the percussion and the warmth of the up-right bass make it hard to resist tapping your toe and wiggling your shoulders. If you’re not careful, the devil himself might possess your shoes and dance you into oblivion. Worry not on behalf of your faithful correspondent – I’ve all but recovered, though the music continue to circle between my ears like cinnamon incense.

If your favorite holiday is Halloween; if you’ve ever howled at the moon with a raspy throat; if you dream of escaping the concrete grind by gypsy caravan at dusk, if this talk of portals, timelessness and demon-dancing resonates with you at all, then this music is for you. Word on the web is Muddy Ruckus is set to release a new album sometime this year – more smoke, more fire.

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