New Mongrels

Big Cup of Empty

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For their 1998 offering, New Mongrels cranked it up a couple of notches, occasionally forsaking their old-school folk flavor in favor of a fuller, more electric sound that feels more in step with the times. Nevertheless, the tunes are all that you may have come to expect from the pen of bandleader Haynes Brooke. Know anyone else who has fashioned an entire song around Guy Lombardo's star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? Know anyone who even could? Brooke does it with great aplomb. And with a little help from Amy Ray on lead vocals, it's one of the best ditties on Big Cup of Empty. Most of the same characters have returned for this follow up to 1993's Not Dead (Yet), and some new kids have joined the party along the way. Overall, the songs on this release are stronger than on the previous, disproving the sophomore jinx theory, at least in this case. The one real oddball, "Shooting from the Sky," sounds like a misplaced number from a Broadway musical. But check out the title track, the aforementioned clarinet-tinged "Guy Lombardo," "April Fool," and "6:15 Diesel."

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