Mudphonic
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Mudphonic

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE

Austin, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Rock Funk

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Jul
17
Mudphonic @ Dr Rockit's Blues Bar

Corpus Christi, Texas, USA

Corpus Christi, Texas, USA

Jun
17
Mudphonic @ The Continental Club Austin

Austin, Texas, USA

Austin, Texas, USA

May
14
Mudphonic @ The Continental Club Austin

Austin, Texas, USA

Austin, Texas, USA

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Music

Press


By: Sarah Hagerman

This album is fuckin' murky, hip shakey and a little bit dirty, and I like it.

Topaz McGarrigle and his sax (among other instrumental) chops has returned to his Texas roots and his band Topaz & Mudphonic is assembled from veterans of some of Austin's finest, with Bobby Perkins (bass, Carolyn Wonderland), Alex Marrero (drums, lead singer of Ghandaia) and John Branch (guitar). Together they have cooked a down-home record, Music for Dorothy (released August 26 by MOWO Inc.), that will easily appeal to fans of Galactic, NMAS or even Robert Randolph, all possible entry points. But, this comes from the dangerous side, looting various stops on the border of Southern gothic rock and heavy NYC psycho funk, with untamed saxophone outbursts and Branch's soaring bottleneck guitar aftershocks.

Whiskey-induced evils and salvation's light figure as heavily in the lyrics as drinking a "six pack and a bottle of Jack" (in the summery party anthem "Euclid") and screwing ("Take Yer Clothes Off"). Amidst the bluesy harmonica and guitar shuffle of "Dirty Water," Topaz's muddied vocals intone, "Devil's got a hand on me/ Why won't you just let me be?" - someone's about to get what's coming to them, in the Al Swearengen sense of the word. Contrast this to the pastoral tranquility of the slinky ode to Dripping Springs, Texas, "Twin Oaks," where a childhood on a farm meant, "Times were tough/ But they sure felt good to me." The album was recorded in a barn on the Colorado River over the period of a month and that rural idealism is joyfully injected throughout. It is so lovingly crafted here that it makes me want to bust out of my cubicle, grab a sixer and go fishing. And I don't eat fish.

Not every number reflects that tight songwriting, but these looser tracks – particularly "Fly w/ Me" and "Yonder Funk" - seem built rough and ready for their enormous potential to explode into a living frenzy. Meanwhile, the last track, "Brothers," consists of cicadas, frogs and a lonely slide guitar in a nerve-soothing comedown. A meaty debut from a sweet sounding outfit that's already been smoking ‘em out on the dance floor. Load up and ride.

- Jambase


Topaz & Mudphonic : Music for Dorothy

Written by Bill Whiting
09/24/2008

topaz_and_mudhonic_dorothy.jpgTopaz McGarrigle, Bobby Perkins, Alex Marrero and John Branch comprise Topaz & Mudphonic, and their disc, Music For Dorothy, is a genuine head turner.

The result of many years of honing and re-approaching their music from a new direction, Topaz & Mudphonic finally got it right on Music For Dorothy. Unrelenting and downright nasty, the torrid foursome take off, slamming hard and jamming on the opener, "Lonely." Blissed out, raw and fuzzy, distorted vocals inject the blues frame of "Dirty Water." Bassist Perkins and guitarist Branch connect with devastating effects on the twisting rocker, "Take Yer Clothes Off."

A new entry to the updated chapter of blues explorers like Mofro, the Black Keys and North Mississippi Allstars, Topaz & Mudphonic hook the listener with slide guitar attacks, searing vocal treatments, and an interconnected groove that shakes and roars with abandon.

Recorded in Austin, Texas, and produced by the band and Craig Bock, Music For Dorothy simmers to a boil as McGarrigle and drummer Marrero lead to new improvisational discovery on "Fly W/Me." A new rock and roll voice from the West appears via music revolutionaries Topaz and Mudphonic on this blistering 2008 jewel.

Music for Dorothy is out now on MOWO! Inc.

- Honest Tune


“....powerful, punchy funk with swampy overtones. Good stuff for dancing. Drinking bourbon. Eating barbecue. And dancing some more."







- Telluride Daily Planet


"...superlative improvisational chops and one sly groove after another." - Austin Chronicle


"This dusky, riff based Southern rock falls somewhere between Little Feat, Tony Joe White, and the North Mississippi Allstars, with plenty of lowdown guitar from John Branch, who is featured almost as prominently as Topaz is." - Billboard


"Recorded in a barn on the bank of the Colorado River, the debut album of Austin fourpiece Topaz & Mudphonic is canned Southern heat, a hooch brew of dirty bayou funk and redneck rock."

"..."Twin Oaks," a sleepy ode to Dripping Springs with multi-instrumentalist bandleader Topaz McGarrigle bottling the down-home soul of Bill Withers..." - Austin Chronicle


Topaz McGarrigle saunters onto Lambert’s platform stage carrying a bottle of beer; John Branch crowds in towards stage left with his guitar; Alex Marrero settles into his drum kit; a tall, shaggy Bobby Perkins straps on his bass while occupying the corner of stage right. A saxophone sits nearby the stage, absorbing the silent tension that palpably promises explosive release. Branch is fingering the slide for his guitar in anticipation of the opening. Perkinds slouches. Topaz is double checking the position of his harmonica’s handsfree gear, while Merrero bounces to the upcoming beat, up and down, up and down, on the circular seat behind his drum set. Instead of “check check check,” we get “yeah, yeah, yeah, for the microphone sound check, appropriately setting the stage for the show that’s about to burst forth into all corners of the room. The energy bounces around the tiny bar. You can tell it’s about to get dirty in here.

Topaz and Mudphonic open with the harmonica-driven “Dirty Water,” which makes you immediately want to begin moving. As the song marches forward, Branch slips in some bottleneck guitar which is gritty and expert in its attempt to slow things down, and brings the crowd back into focus, before the power of the harmonica is let loose again. Topaz and Mudphonic are funky… not South Congress funky, but backwoods, swamp water, Jack Daniels, grubby, top hats and shaggy hair funky. A stark, frankly Texan, influence is felt, but the infusion of grunginess that lies somewhere in between the funk feels more Black Keys than Black Crowes.

Music For Dorothy is Topaz and Mudphonic’s first studio release. It was reported to be recorded in an old barn on the banks of the Colorado River - a terribly fitting setting to produce such an organic, boggy Texan euphony. Calling this album gritty doesn’t do it justice. It’s dirty. A good dirty. Like a humid Texas summer night, dripping greasy fried chicken down your shirt and licking your fingers, canned beer, dancing with your shoes off on a sticky bar room floor and not giving a happy damn dirty.

Although near impossible to capture the heat and punchiness that Topaz and Mudphonic share on stage at a live show, they do exceptionally well on record. Music For Dorothy refreshingly breaks down to Hill Country roots rock, but dusts the tracks primarily with jazz and Latin influences, distortion galore, sax, organ, harmonica, a powerful bass line and a beat that perforates anyone that listens. There isn’t a damn thing quietly folksy about this record, yet it will lullaby you into a dancing trance if you aren’t careful. The tracks are catchy, but create a confection that’s more layered than it initially appears and could be easily missed when in a dancing frenzy. Not only is this a record you can dance to, it’s also one worth listening to. “Take Off Yer’ Clothes” and “Slippin Back” echo a grimy darkness, whereas “Lonely” includes more of a lighthearted beat that seems to pop more powerfully live than on record. “Sunshine” includes a jabbing sax line and “Twin Oaks” plays on a lazy/loungy hot summer rhythm. “Brothers,” the last track on the album is something entirely different; it’s a beautifully naked track that best reflects the vision of the album with the combination of a simple acoustic guitar and the summer Texan night cicada choir as the vocal track.

Topaz and Mudphonic are officially all grown up. They were born in Austin, each coming from different projects and sounds, brought together by chance to create the Mudphonic explosion. Surprisingly, no lyrics were utilized in the first incarnation, with Topaz only on sax and harmonica. As time passed and the band took off their training wheels, lyrics were added and Topaz became the front man drawing a Jim Morrison scruffiness with a McMurtry Texan devotion and acid jazziness that is commanding. - Austin Sound


The Topaz & Mudphonic debut album, Music for Dorothy, takes listeners on a Mark Twain wild voyage through treacherous guitar riff twists and fast Wurlitzer rapids. If Huck and Tom were to take a trip down the Colorado River, this album would be their soundtrack.

Right down to the natural recording of frog gulps and cicada chirps outside the riverbank barn they recorded in, the album has a strong grassroots feel. Topaz & Mudphonic’s roots stretch deep into each of their own musical and personal backgrounds, producing a delectable musical fruit that would tempt any copperhead or rattlesnake.

Topaz & Mudphonic’s sound can be likened to a tasting of New Orleans jazz, Latin funk, and Texas bluegrass. The first track, “Lonely,” creates a gritty blues and groovy funk blend that’s nearly impossible to stay in your chair for. “Dirty Water” follows, paying tribute to every great radio show band of the 1930s, in crafty vocal distortions that focus the listener’s ear on the show-stopping harmonica and guitar melodies. “Sunshine” lifts the spirit of the album with a Sunday gospel church feel; Topaz also flexes his famed saxophone skills and does not disappoint. “Twin Oaks” has easy guitar and organ slopes, heavy percussion, and sliding soulful vocals that could all be mistaken for something from Bill Withers’ greatest hits album. Sound after sound, and song after song, Topaz & Mudphonic demonstrate their creativity, skill, and diversity that would challenge any listener to find something they didn’t enjoy. And after experiencingMusic for Dorothy, they’ll surely be yearning for a second installment of the Adventures of Topaz & Mudphonic. - Austin.Com


Music For Dorothy: **** (4 Stars)

Backstory: After rocking an impromptu live set at a University of Austin Halloween party, this rootsy rock and blues outfit came to life in a barn on the Colorado River. The result? A refreshingly nostalgic debut kicking out a series of mad jams that mash hyperactive harmonica, guitar, sax and more with a frenetic vibe that doesn’t quit for 45 minutes.

Why you should care: While other bands have taken the templates of Americana and Southern rock widescreen since its halcyon days in the ‘60s and ‘70s, few have had any meat on their sonic bones. Not so with Topaz & Mudphonic, who like their peers in the Black Keys bring muscle to old-fashioned, head-bobbing anthems. In an age of digital dilettantes, the rural funk of this crew is refreshing—and much needed.

Verdict: It’s hard not to have a good time listening to the boogie of “Music for Dorothy.” “Lonely” is an unfurling party monster that rides a signature riff for four sweaty minutes. “Slippin’ Back” leans heavy like the Stones, but takes time for wistful exposition. “Take Yer Clothes Off” pounds hammered guitar and horny sax into a bracing cocktail. Slide guitar ambles optimistically on “Sunshine,” but burns hot on the suicidal “Fly w/Me.” Throw in some crickets on the acoustic closer “Brothers” and you can save yourself ticket fare to the Texas countryside.

X-Factor: Frontman Topaz McGarrigle is no backwoods prodigy—he attended the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington D.C.
- Metromix-Louisville


On the CD "Music for Dorothy," the song "Sunshine" starts out with slide guitar and harmonica playing in unison. This song sounds like Elmore James and the Allman Brothers combined. The vocals on this track remind me of the band WAR, which had a similar sound on "Why Can't We Be Friends."

The sound takes a slight leap into jazz territory with the addition of Topaz's saxophone playing, giving it a unique melding of music styles.

"Euclid Street" sounds like an Edgar Winter arrangement, straight out of the '70s.You can hear fuzz-tones, echoplexes and vocal filter effects. It's the first time I've heard a saxophone player play through an octave-delay effect. That makes this tune an original.

"Fly With Me" could be a hit. It sounds like Canned Heat-meets-Deep Purple with it's harmonica-laden blues influence and the growling tone of the Hammond B3 organ. The song settles down a little toward the middle, but it's on the psychedelic side.

Overall, Topaz and Mudphonics' "Music for Dorothy" CD has an original sound and is recommended to fans of classic and blues rock.
- Metro Spirit


Discography

Live at La Zona Rosa (Limited Edition) 2007
Music For Dorothy - August 26th, 2008 (Distribution by MOWO!/Ryko.)
Untitled- Upcoming Album March 2011

Photos

Bio

Evolution. Applying the term to Topaz McGarrigle's career as a professional musician provides a fascinating case study with more twists and turns than a Colorado River water moccasin. And its end result is more satisfying than a heaping plate of Texas barbecue washed down by an ice cold beer.

Topaz, a native Texan, took up saxophone at an early age and was classically trained in jazz principles while attending the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington D.C. Armed with a vast set of skills at a young age, Topaz further honed his chops on the horn with a move to New York City and landed a record deal with the Velour label in the mid 1990s. In the Big City, Topaz enjoyed a decade of remarkable success as a jazz saxophonist – performing on national networks such as BET, and sharing stages with internationally known artists including Norah Jones, TV on the Radio, and Widespread Panic.

As time progressed, the need to do more, to grow – to evolve – burned deep inside the musician. Often the first step toward eventual maturity in any spirit is a return to roots, and that’s where Topaz headed with a return to his hometown of Austin. Reconnecting with Austin’s free-flowing organism of sound, Topaz felt compelled to explore and add more to his traditional jazz/funk sax-only repertoire.

Vocals came first, and – despite initial anxiety – taking the mic felt right. Next harmonica, and eventually guitar were incorporated into his musical persona. With these new sets of developing skills came a new accompanying sound that brought out new emotions and gave the listener an experience that felt more … raw … dirty … real.

In the pursuit of band mates to add layers of sound and depth, Topaz first began talking to Alex Marrero about starting a new project. Marrero, lead singer of the alternative Latin group Ghandaia, had perfected his front-man charisma and vocal skills and was experiencing his own musical evolution by moving to the drums. He was the foundation for this roots-oriented vision.

Marrero introduced Topaz to a key ingredient of what would become a most intoxicating brew. Guitarist John Branch, much like Topaz, had left behind a jazz background in the Bay Area to return home to Texas. Branch had recently turned his considerable skills toward perfecting sweet southern–drenched bottleneck guitar licks.

They then met Greg Rhoades at a downtown punk club where they were experimenting with the new sound. They were immediately blown away by his funky Jack Bruce influenced bass lines – a wonderful and mesmerizing way to tie this foursome together to form one dynamic, succinct unit.

Thus was born Mudphonic.
Evolution. Applying the term to Topaz McGarrigle’s career as a professional musician provides a fascinating case study with more twists and turns than a Colorado River water moccasin. And its end result is more satisfying than a heaping plate of Texas barbecue washed down by an ice cold beer.

Topaz, a native Texan, took up saxophone at an early age and was classically trained in jazz principles while attending the Duke Ellington School for the Arts in Washington D.C. Armed with a vast set of skills at a young age, Topaz further honed his chops on the horn with a move to New York City and landed a record deal with the Velour label in the mid 1990s. In the Big City, Topaz enjoyed a decade of remarkable success as a jazz saxophonist – performing on national networks such as BET, and sharing stages with internationally known artists including Norah Jones, TV on the Radio, and Widespread Panic.

As time progressed, the need to do more, to grow – to evolve – burned deep inside the musician. Often the first step toward eventual maturity in any spirit is a return to roots, and that’s where Topaz headed with a return to his hometown of Austin. Reconnecting with Austin’s free-flowing organism of sound, Topaz felt compelled to explore and add more to his traditional jazz/funk sax-only repertoire.

Vocals came first, and – despite initial anxiety – taking the mic felt right. Next harmonica, and eventually guitar were incorporated into his musical persona. With these new sets of developing skills came a new accompanying sound that brought out new emotions and gave the listener an experience that felt more … raw … dirty … real.

In the pursuit of band mates to add layers of sound and depth, Topaz first began talking to Alex Marrero about starting a new project. Marrero, lead singer of the alternative Latin group Ghandaia, had perfected his front-man charisma and vocal skills and was experiencing his own musical evolution by moving to the drums. He was the foundation for this roots-oriented vision.

Marrero introduced Topaz to a key ingredient of what would become a most intoxicating brew. Guitarist John Branch, much like Topaz, had left behind a jazz background in the Bay Area to return home to Texas. Branch had recently turned his consi