Gig Seeker Pro


Winnipeg, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF

Winnipeg, Canada | SELF
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Pop Rock




"Stream Mulligrub Soft Grudge"

The last track on Mulligrub’s debut album is the bummed-out “Sprite Zero Slushie,” which ends on the cogent line, “It’s a movie I have seen a million times too many,” repeated by vocalist and guitarist Kelly Campbell as she twists the words around in her mouth and expels them with force, ushering the record to a clamoring finish. It’s a fitting way to go out for a record that’s largely about seeing yourself and others fall into familiar and comfortable but unhealthy patterns and feeling too complacent to do anything about it. The record’s title, Soft Grudge, is maybe a sly reference to the ’90s revivalism fashion fad from earlier in the decade that’s still ongoing, but it’s mostly it’s a nod to the malleability of our emotional state, the pushback of knowing when to stand your ground and when to forgive.

Campbell originally started Mulligrub as a solo project, the earliest fruits of which are collected on 2013’s Pre Grub EP, sketches of what these songs would eventually blossom into once the full band started working together. These demos are noticeably different than the bittersweet punk that fills Soft Grudge — bouncy riffs and countryfied elasticity would give way to the tired pathos of their final versions. “Mountains & Houses” undergoes the most dramatic transformation: Its chorus of “There’s pills that you can take to stop/ A thousand misfired neurons” now seems less like an optimal solution and more like just another method of problem avoidance. Later, again on “Sprite Zero,” “aspartame and anxiety medication/ shaky summer hungover repetitive motion” has just become another deadening part of the day-to-day.

The relationships documented throughout Soft Grudge contain a similar matter-of-factness, love by way of convenience and necessity rather than any palpable passion. Two fucked-up people just happening to smash into each other’s lives with no way to fix each other’s flaws, but maybe finding something worthwhile in all the mess anyway to tide them over until they’re ready to take the next step. “We were two very unhealthy people,” Campbell observes on “Anyways However.” “Seems like all we did back then was cry on each other’s shoulders/ When the tears dried up, it would get a little awkward/ It’s a miracle somewhere in there we found we held some common ground.” A few songs earlier, she acknowledges the potential mismatch of a pairing, but doesn’t want anything to change, at least for the moment: “I don’t know if you will be around to write sad poems for me/ I don’t know if I will be around to sing you to sleep/ I don’t know if codependency is really all that healthy/ The only thing that I know right now is I miss you already.”

The most captivating parts of Soft Grudge are when it feels as though Campbell’s voice is working in opposition of the music itself, fighting against the tide to get her words out. The back half of “Chicken” sounds like she’s climbing up a mountain with every breath: “Tell all your friends that you’re a better person,” she builds. “Cry into their shoulders like it makes a like it makes a like it makes a difference/ Ask yourself who is it are you really trying to convince.” Her cadence in that section is electrifying. Something similar happens on “Europe,” a knotted and complicated meditation on a friend who committed an unforgivable wrong: “You’re not gonna change/ And there ain’t no one that can make ya/ So I’ll walk home alone, and you will keep being a rapist…”

Those fiery swells are tempered by songs like “NFLD,” which contains the most uplifting point on the record. It’s a track that builds up to a brief moment of serenity that results in the narrator’s destruction. After traveling on a ferry to the idyllic nature with the one that she loves, they end up on the rocks overlooking an ocean, watching whales off in the distance: “I’ve never been and may never again be so close to something so complete and beautiful,” Campbell reminisces. “And if the undertow should take me, I won’t panic and I won’t scream/ Just watch the rocks destroy my body and watch the parts become part of something greater than I could ever conceive.” Those fleeting glimpses of peace are all we’ve got.

Mulligrub’s songs tends to take place in the breaths between words of a conversation, those millions of thoughts that rush around heads but can’t possibly be enunciated or elucidated. The Winnipeg trio take those moments and slow them down until there’s something to hold onto, something to make sense of in all the confusion. These are songs about giving up and giving in, not sacrificing yourself but maybe exhibiting an unwillingness to put up much of a fight. Reflecting on a past love, “Anyways And However” ends on its title phrase: “I know you tried real hard, but you broke my heart/ But it doesn’t matter ’cause I’ll love you, anyways and however.”

Listen below. - Stereogum

"Mulligrub Soft Grudge"

Soft Grudge opens with a lethargic, jagged guitar chug ripped straight from the '90s, mixed with sweet and trashy summer poetry. Singer Kelly Grub whispers and wails, "Backyard baby, take me back / put your cigarettes out on my hands and / kiss me with your elbows up / and make me flowers from empties and car exhaust." It's all over in a flash, like sweltering Prairie days spent with someone close.

The Prairies — and Mulligrub's hometown of Winnipeg, in particular — are all over Soft Grudge, both in the thrashy, DIY spirit so prevalent in its punk scene, and literally in Grub's lyrics. When she sings about strolling along the river and passing out in Vimy Ridge Park over the uneasy guitar riffs of "Europe," well, that's something a lot of locals actually do, kind of like a self-destructive youth rite of passage. The already aggressive anxiety of the song swirls viciously at the end, as she scolds a friend turned sexual predator for his refusal — despite multiple offers of help and education — to change. "And where are you now?" Grub howls, "You're getting drunk in Europe / You're fucking up your last chance / to get back the home, the friends, the family you abandoned." She harnesses all that brutal frustration and releases it as if her life — and his, though it's probably too late — depends on it.

It's not all dark, but the themes are certainly all deeply emotional, and Grub sings earnestly about the pains of navigating youth and melancholic nostalgia for simpler days, even raging against the establishment, tripping over and spilling out her wordy lines on "Song About The Man." In the lyrics sent to press, it comes with a disclaimer mentioning slight embarrassment at those lines, written when she was 18. But while it shows a little bit, she's got nothing to worry about; after all, there are few Canadians who wouldn't be able to agree with the frustration behind this slice of truth: "It seems one square of land will not remain sacred / someone has to own it and sell it and pave it."

Soft Grudge traverses that land, too — not only the Prairies, but the Rockies, too, on the breezy, sparkling "Mountains & Houses," and "the rock" is there on the gorgeous and contemplative "NFLD," which features some of the album's best lines, about being taken by an Atlantic undertow. "Just watch the rocks destroy my body," Grub sings, "and watch the parts become part of something / greater than I could ever conceive." It's a very specific feeling she nails, but one that many Canadians, in the presence of such natural beauty, have felt before.

There are moments that feel like they could've been left behind, like the snoozy "Homo Milk," which is pleasant but doesn't particularly add to the record. In general, the lack of hooks sometimes make it feel unwieldy and overwhelming with Grub's poetic words and wild, almost spoken word delivery, but her voice is so compelling it manages to wrangle the songs regardless, even when they feel like they might break through their enclosures. It's easy to think of Soft Grudge as the kind of record Hop Along's Frances Quinlan would've written, if she'd rejected any sort of verse-chorus-verse structure in her songwriting — just see tempestuous standout "Sprite Zero" and its dark and hot-blooded art-punk.

It feels almost like a cop-out to make Weakerthans comparisons, but Grub and John K. Samson share a gift for capturing the emotional gravitas behind the geographies they know. While JKS' approach is often, at least to a degree, voyeuristic or semi-detached, Grub and her band can't help but be part of the alloy — one made of environment, people, feelings — and it's those visceral impulses, which Grub seemingly couldn't turn off even with a gun to her head, that elevates Mulligrub to this deeply personal but wholly relatable in-it-togetherness. It also makes theirs a new voice worth listening to. (Independent) - Exclaim!


I love the way Mulligrub describes themselves: “Bittersweet but mostly bitter.” That perfectly describes of the sound of the band, which aches with angst. The group—singer and guitarist Kelly Campbell, drummer and singer Riley Hill, and bassist Mirella Villa—play emo-tinged songs about long-lost friends, broken hearts, and best-laid plans going awry. - Bitch Media


"Homo Milk and Man in the Moon" is actually two songs merged into one, with the underlying theme of how we act in different friendships to keep it united. It begins softly with a slow drumbeat while delving into the first relationship, before picking up the pace at the two minute mark when vocalist Kelly Grub's voice expands and flows over the instruments. Although the song title is a reference to an inside joke, it's easy to connect with Kelly's reflection on relationship themes like unhealthy co-dependency and the inability to connect with someone. Not every friendship can be perfect, and Mulligrub helps us understand that. - The Le Sigh

"mp3: "Sprite Zero" - Mulligrub"

The music of Mulligrub was the perfect soundtrack for a damp and dreary weekend. The Winnipeg trio's Soft Grunge album came out in April, and it's a collection of stirring visuals, a portrait of anxious musings, Canadian summers and falling for someone. The vocals of Kelly Campbell come with a resilient force, perhaps her own mechanisms of survival reflected in the strength of her song. Along with band members J Riley Hill and Mirella Villa, the release becomes a complete collection of utterly emotional and at times gut wrenching honesty. The whole thing is worth your attention, but "Sprite Zero" is especially impassioned. "I wish I could get it all right it's too much/you're a light bug and I can't keep up," Campbell sings, and with the deliberate and careful instrumental backing this diary of wishes and whims becomes all the more stirring. - The Grey Estates

"Pop-punkers Mulligrub find catharsis from old grudges on debut LP"

It could be said that Soft Grudge is an album about dealing with the complexities of broken relationships. “It’s being nostalgic, but also really bitter about the shitty things that happened,” Campbell adds. “You have these really bad feelings, but you also still remember the good ones, so it’s hard to have a pure grudge.” - Beatroute

"Staff Pick: Mulligrub"

This past October, I was lucky enough to get to wind up at a Mulligrub show in their hometown of Winnipeg. I was in town for Canzine Central and some of my pals brought me along to see the trio playing as an opening act for Toronto darlings Dilly Dally.

They played only a handful of songs that night, but I was smitten with the flirtatious, windy alto of lead vocalist and guitarist Kelly Campbell and the mellow hopscotch sounds of the band, rounded out by J Riley Hill on drums and Mirella Villa on bass. - Broken Pencil Magazine

"Mulligrub - Sprite Zero Slushie"

“Sprite Zero Slushie” is only the third song that Winnipeg-based Mulligrub have put out as a three-piece, but it’s powerful as all hell and demonstrates a mastery of form that far exceeds their greenness as a band. - Stereogum

"Mulligrub - Canadian Classic"

While the band plays it straight on “Canadian Classic”, maintaining a relatively constant volume and momentum where other bands might crank it up for the chorus with a wall of guitars or skyscraping vocal harmonies, they are no less effective thanks to singer and guitarist, Kelly Grub, whose twangy, impassioned vocals and acute sense of melody provide more than enough energy to carry the track and bury its hooks deep in your brain - Funeral Sounds

"New Feminist Music Summer Roundup"

"Bitter tunes for the confused youth. Furious and silent with flowers in hair. Teenage grandmother's aesthetic. Boys just don't get it." That's how Canadian band Mulligrub describes themselves on their bandcamp page. That's too hard to top, so suffice it to say that they're a queer feminist pop punk band from Winnipeg, Kelly Grub's vocals are an endorphin rush of noise and feelz, and I love them and want more from them ASAP. - Bitch Media

"Mulligrub - Canadian Classic"

“Canadian Classic” announced Mulligrub as a band who has remarkable control of their craft, navigating a variety of passages with a clear-eyed confidence that should serve them extraordinarily well.” - Heartbreaking Bravery

"Audible Hoots: Snoqualmie / Hawk and Steel, Mulligrub"

Released ahead of their upcoming full-length record, the new single from Winnipeg pop-punk band Mulligrub is an energetic outpouring of lovesickness. In “Canadian Classic” lead singer Kelly Grub’s vocals oozes with bitterness and, dare I say, a swagger for fantastic results. Paired with the cover art depicting lawn chairs and plants that have seen too much summer sun, any nationalistic thoughts paired with the title “Canadian Classic” are thrown out. Put simply, make room for Mulligrub on your (sad) summer playlist. - Grayowl Point

"Not so soft - Local trio pens bittersweet ballads with plenty of bite"

Their penchant for penning songs about love lost and found avoids feeling overwrought or sappy, thanks to the raspy guitars, snappy percussion and Campbell’s warm, powerful voice driving the melody. - Winnipeg Free Press


Still working on that hot first release.



Mulligrub writes melody-driven songs with punk and tweeish tendencies. Bittersweet but mostly bitter, they can be found singing songs about the last day of summer or friends you’ll never see again. Mulligrub is angry on the outside and tender on the inside, like a burnt marshmallow. Kelly sings and plays guitar, Riley sings and plays drums, Mirella plays bass, and they all have too many feelings.

Band Members