White Mud Free Way
White Mud Free Way is a band that was borne out of frustration with many things, but you wouldn't gather that from listening to Last Year's Junk. A hodge-podge of hip-hop, pop, and lo-fi indie rock, it throws out a whole lot of things and manages to make most of them work. Lead singer Mari Solivan sounds almost exactly like another female singer I can't quite put my finger on (maybe because she sounds a little bit like several people) and the group mixes a touch of old-school Beck with lots of other stuff.
The opening track of "Mercury" makes that very apparent as it opens with a tinny beat and jangly guitar loop but slides into a warm pop track with vocals by Solivan as little clips of keyboards and lots of other random bits (including spoken-word vocals) fly in from all directions. "Adele" is when the aforementioned Beck sound really comes into play as Terence Bernardo takes dual vocals with Solivan and the two trade duties over a lazy hip-hop beat and acoustic guitar jangles while other sounds clank around.
The group tries out a huge variety of styles, but they're at their best when they keep things a bit more light. "Tumbleweeds" is a murky track with detuned guitars and a jumbled beat but it never quite gets off the ground while "Sneeze" sounds like an attempt to encroach on the psychedelic rehash of Beachwood Sparks. Although it swerves pretty close to too-glossy, it's tracks like "Near Star" (which mixes in a wee touch of country) that the group really shine at. Considering a track by the group is going to be included on a forthcoming solid-steel mix by Kid Koala, he agrees that they're at the best when they keep the beat going. There are definitely some interesting things going on with Last Year's Junk, but it also sounds like the work of a group that needs to focus their sound a little bit more instead of dabbling in everything.