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Kid Mud
Now They Shut Us Down
New and Used Records
June 16, 2009

Kid Mud was Sean Duncan, an indie rock vet formerly of Fiver, but with the release of full length debut Now They Shut Us Down Kid Mud has seemingly morphed beyond "one man band" status into something larger than the sum of its parts. Early Kid Mud recordings were solo efforts, with Duncan playing each and every instrument like some sort of YouTube rockstar. This latest effort, however, was also partly recorded at Mountain Ghost, allowing Duncan the ability to not only incorporate a richer, lusher sound with more varied instrumentation (both electronic and live), but a diverse range of artists including his own sister Shannon, who sings backup on several tracks.

The brief "Eviction" starts the album with a Modest Mousey sound (with just the faintest hint of Ugly Casanova), simple strumming guitar and vocals that drop in and out. If Eviction throws Duncan out on the street, "1095" -- the second track and true album opener -- is a veritable road song, drumbeat marching along with the dotted white lines as Duncan's doubled-up vocals drift somewhere near Lost in Translation territory. "Not Far, New Far" is a slower piece, Americana through and through, crying steel guitar and melancholy vocals, simultaneously channeling Silver Jews and The Last Town Chorus; "Numbers and Graphs" has a similar vibe, though its chord progression is more reminiscent of Counting Crows and the mix puts Duncan further back in the room.

At every turn, Now They Shut Us Down seems to throw something unexpected into the mix. Lead single "Federated" has a poppy, radio- friendly vibe with a mix of live instruments and a bleepy-bloopy bridge, the end credits to something smack in the middle of the album. "Number 12 Looks Just Like You" drops Faint-esque electronica and loopy drums behind the somewhat ironic lyric, "and nothing seems to change." Immediately thereafter, "Tempera" turns down the lights and takes it down a notch, to a darker, more melancholy place, slow drums and sad vocals from somewhere around 3 am when she just called and broke your heart into pieces. "909 Garden" is a nearly seven-minute- long semi-duet with the legendary Jim Ruiz, something like Primitive Radio Gods meets Leonard Cohen. "Guidelines For Style" is a waltz. "Questions or Comments" is a veritable sea shanty. "Shadowbox" goes from banjo to violin without missing a beat.

Kid Mud's sound has been compared to the likes of Ween, Rogue Wave, Sparklehorse and Postal Service, and Now They Shut Us Down definitely contains echoes of those, and other indie favorites. The 13- song album is anything but unlucky, its diverse soundtrack deftly telling a tale of loneliness, regret and redemption, of dark times and the light at the end of the tunnel. Though lyrically it is occasionally a bit repetitious, sonically it's a trip worth taking, with 13 distinct pictures from an exposition right on the edge of twilight. In "The Godfather," the album's closing track, Duncan sings "If we win it will be tomorrow; if we lose it will be today." For Kid Mud, it certainly seems like tomorrow is going to be a pretty good day.

Favorite Track: "Tempera"

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Michael Fiegel is a freelance writer and graphic designer. His diverse background includes journalism, radio copywriting, technical writing, game design and music reviewing. He is best known as the creator of the Internet cult sensation, Ninja Burger and the Hellas: Worlds of Sun & Stone RPG. He can be reached at or at his website,

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