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Aug. 24, 2020

Interview with The Mammals

Interview with The Mammals

We had the pleasure of interviewing The Mammals over Zoom audio! 

The Mammals can hear the Earth calling, and they’re asking us to listen. Why is the societal pain and political-environmental challenge in this album actually so listenable? Our ears...


We had the pleasure of interviewing The Mammals over Zoom audio! 

The Mammals can hear the Earth calling, and they’re asking us to listen. Why is the societal pain and political-environmental challenge in this album actually so listenable? Our ears can hear it because it’s been composed with great care by two of folk-Americana’s most heartfelt topical songwriters and lovingly performed by an ensemble of nine musicians.
The Mammals are a warm-blooded party band with a conscience, equally inspired by their folk predecessors and Americana peers. One wintry week in New York’s Hudson Valley, they descended upon the studio with an abundance of emotionally potent songs and an expansive nine-piece ensemble to create an album worthy of their nearly 20 year history.
At the creative heart of the project are songwriting multi-instrumentalists and founding members Mike Merenda and Ruth Ungar Merenda. While they generally tour as a quintet they chose a “more the merrier” approach to this session, inviting both veteran bandmates (Jacob Silver, Ken Maiuri, Konrad Meissner and Charlie Rose) and recent collaborators (Will Bryant, Brandon Morrison, and Lee Falco).

Like a shimmering wall of sound, with sparkling piano and banjo, and soaring fiddle, pedal steel, and organ, these ten energizing, uplifting arrangements were performed live and captured in real time by co-producer Adam Armstrong.

Coming Down Off Summer kicks off the set with pulsating double drums, an ocean of feeling, and an intimate end-of-the-tour confessional by Ruth Ungar and her ukulele. After a delicately psychedelic jam we’re launched into Radio Signal, Mike Merenda’s new-folk classic that lands sonically somewhere between Paul Simon and The Who yet, if you listen closely, is heavily informed by the traditional folksong, Shenandoah.
Already the hooks and choruses are strong and memorable when a plaintive fiddle and the sweet, unforgettable refrain of Merenda’s What It All Is carry us even further into the band’s take on humanity’s place in nature.

The song with the deepest emotional resonance is most certainly If You Could Hear Me Now. Arranged sparsely with fingerpicked guitar, graceful Wurlitzer and dulcet pedal steel, it powerfully pairs Merenda’s poetic songwriting and Ungar’s magnetic voice. From the moment they first tried rehearsing this one it has been a room-quieting stunner, and therefore has been tapped as the album’s first single, released along with the pre-order launch on March 6th, 2020.

Someone’s Hurting is a darkly edgy banjo-driven song by Ungar, conceived on tour amid the beautiful Scottish countryside while witnessing, along with countless others, the horror of police violence playing out at home via live-streamed video. Lighter tracks like the dreamy California, soulful East Side West Side and Petty-esque You Can Come to My House balance the scales and remind us that this band is still optimistic at heart with 20 years of on-the-road experience winning new fans, leading sing-alongs, and building community one room, one hillside at a time.

Whether this album helps us slow to hear Earth’s call and reflect on our collective experiences or serves as a rallying call to action depends on the listener. Either way, we feel reassured that it’s our combined responsibility to stay alert, use our strength to protect the fragile, and remember to stay welcoming and kind. Everyone’s invited to plant their roots, hoist their antenna, and tune in to The Mammals.

We want to hear from you! Please email Tera@BringinitBackwards.com.

www.BringinitBackwards.com

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