In many ways, the Muddy Crows’ coming together is a tale of modern convenience. As keyboardist Steve Mead would recall, someone errantly suggested their name to them following a discussion about wanting to incorporate the word “crow” into their would-be moniker. By serendipity, all of the required domain names were available, so its members went with it and the Muddy Crows were born. As charming and simplistic as their origin story is, it’s their music that’s put them on the map for good reason.
Titular opener ‘Straight Crazy’ assures that the band makes a good first impression with their global audience. Rarely is it that one is able to capture the same brilliant ebullience that Leon Russell did when commanding ‘Tightrope’ with as much delightfully off-kilter magnetism, but with a driving beat that nearly verges on pop or even ska while maintaining roots integrity, the Muddy Crows sure do manage to. It’s where they make their best impression on the EP, arguably, but each of its four tracks serves well to exhibit the contemporary freshness that the band brings to the Americana scene.
‘Quarter Past Four’ rollicks with a believable blues swagger whereas ‘Jezebel’ takes a page from out of the classic Black Stone Cherry playbook, mustering a convincing Southern-style charisma in lead singer Dan Wolff’s gruff passionate delivery. It’s in the imperfections of his performance that makes it an alluring standout, even above the track’s jam band-esque swirl of electric guitars. Taking it back to the aforementioned Russell, closer ‘Anywhere But Here’ is the EP’s straightest-shooting number, but it still swings with an infectious, singalong melody driven forward by piano that would not be out of place if the blues icon himself were to somehow muster a new album from the beyond. A bridge featuring an ascension of some neatly played trumpet sends it home.
For all of the above, Straight Crazy has us crazy here at For Folk’s Sake. Having already overtaken their considerably notable home city of Washington D.C., it may not be too much of a stretch to take bets on what should well be a continued rise for the Muddy Crows from here. Riding the line between songs for music lovers and music critics alike is a laughably difficult task, but Straight Crazy serves to indicate that this is one band that should well be able to appease both throughout what will hopefully be a long-standing career.
Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)