The Mammals

Rock That Babe

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The second album from the Mammals finds them with a more focused sense of purpose in their new old-timey sound. With strong roots in American folk (Ruth Ungar's father is Jay Ungar) and radicalism (Tao Rodriguez is the grandson of Pete Seeger) they come with a good pedigree, and use it well on mostly original compositions. They've relaxed as a unit, although they still have the occasional tendency to preach, as on "Bad Shoes Blues" and "The Bush Boys" (which, though funny and timely in 2004, will seem dated in ten years). They can, however, produce things of great and gorgeous beauty, like the laid-back "Pearls," or their version of the traditional "Fall on My Knees." The biggest surprises, however, come in the form of a take on Compay Segundo's classic "Chan Chan," and an Allen Ginsberg poem set to music, "Lay Down Yr Mountain." The former doesn't add anything to the original, but buffs it up by taking it out of a Cuban context; the latter breathes new life into Ginsberg's poem. The instrumentals do showcase the true folk talent of the band, especially "D-Medley" with its energy and drive. These Mammals are rising fast in the species list.

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