We here at Shutter 16 love the dudes in Mutemath and the music they’ve been steadily releasing for fifteen years; but don’t worry, President Dianna Augustine’s got enough love for the rest y’all who (for whatever reason) missed out the the MM train (but why?!).
Though the band’s future seemed a tad dicey on a couple of occasions (see the departure of guitarist Roy Mitchell-Cárdenas in May and drummer Darren King in August), it’s done nothing but seemingly strengthen the heartbeat of the band. With a brand new album out today, entitled Play Dead, and a world tour approaching, Mutemath is nothing if not dedicated to their fanbase and the art of music.
To celebrate the release of Play Dead, we’ve got a special edition of our series that features our staff’s top ten most influential songs. Today, Dianna presents: ten of Mutemath’s MUST HEAR songs.
That’s right, Dianna has put together what she thinks are Mutemath essentials, whether you’ve been a die hard since day one or are just now hopping on the bandwagon (don’t worry, there’s always room for more!). Below are the songs she thinks you have GOT to hear before a) going further into their discography and/or b) catching them on tour! If you’re somewhere in the Carolinas, we better see you at the Fillmore Charlotte on 9/24 or the Ritz Raleigh on 9/25.
So, without further ado, take it away Dianna!
There is a deep and vast catalogue of songs to dive into when it comes to Mutemath. I’ll try my best to point you into one of those directions. Each album is a different layer, a signature sound, an evolution of synthesis. They play so many instruments it’s hard to keep up and they are all versed in these instruments. So much so sometimes they sit around and jam and an hour later BOOM, they have a full album worth of music. Their shows are not just them playing the same songs either – they mix it up, add different strings, vocals, and acrobatics. Photographers, please note this is a band to add to your list hands-down. Great theatrics, lights, and soul on their sleeve, they’re every photographer’s dream band.
Armistice Live: Going to cheat a little bit here, but this should be everyone’s introduction to the band – you want to see what they are all about, any band is about, watch them live. Why waste your time on a band that blows live, right? This was what I saw one night and realized hey, I saw these cats live this past summer and they blew my damn mind. From start to finish, you should be hooked, waiting for the next song, like I am, always! So excited for this week and new album by the band. Tune in to the time they did a live performance at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, Georgia.
“Used To” from the album Vitals: The dreamy song that talks on lost love and rebuilding. It’s good to note this is the band’s most played song on Spotify. It just hits you in the feels and keeps you there music-locked. Favorite lyric: “I still recall a time you were on my mind, monopolizing each and every second.”
“Vitals” from Vitals: Even though this is on the same album as “Used To,” it leads us into a very different direction, as well as being an instrumental track. MM is known for their grand musicianship, not just having a hot singer. This pop-synth wonder is more like disco music on acid with sultry non-vocals and dancy keyboard heavy beats that just make you want to jam.
“Blood Pressure” from Odd Soul: The first time I saw them perform this song I watched Paul Meany do a full flip over his keyboard and land perfect. Another time I saw him stand on his keyboard and jump kick into a photopit. I was shocked one moment he was on the stage, jumping on his instrument and the next, he was absolutely in my face shaking my hand, smiling ear-to-ear. I’ve watched all band members do some crazy thing but he is the most acrobatic live. This song gets your blood pressure jumping for sure! Favorite lyric: “You’re on the road, on a road that’s bound for nowhere. Why don’t you do what you’re told?”
“Odd Soul” from Odd Soul: Bad-ah-badah-dah – they are known for their silly sounds becoming a hook and energy. This go around you can’t help but to snap the fingers, and listen to the swells and dips in the song. Meany’s vocal range is displayed here as well as some of the mean drumming tamed by King. This funky song bleeds soul. But it’s for all us freaks and outcast – you’re damn alright just being you. Favorite lyric: “And one day if my child ever wonders what is wrong…I won’t bat an eye when I tell him ‘daddy don’t belong.’”
“Chaos” from Mutemath: A beautifully timed and sequestered love affair with double tones and DJ skritch-scratching. This was their first album, when they were laying foundation to their sound. It’s what you hear in the background that draws you in over and over again. While they are known for writing ace songs, the lyrical content to this is tops as well. I do have to admit I was wondering for a while why they were jamming on about seeing a KIOSK in the airport but I digress, and now it all makes so much more sense! Favorite lyric: “I always see you when my sight is lost. Everything around’s breaking down to chaos, I know you stay true when my world is false.”
“Goodbye” from Armistice: This was my introduction to MM. I’d run into their show by accident one day while traveling around with some friends. I’m all for the whole band but if your vocalist is shit I’m not going to stay engaged. It was almost poppy and very different from what was out around then. Paul Meany took a hold of my sight and I watched him bounce around the whole stage, the crowd, and the stars collided. I’d been wandering around the Eastern side of the states from concert to concert. Scouting some tunes and night after night I was in love with people’s passion to do music, but not what they were producing. It was love at first note. The vocals and even the instruments were being played like crazy, but had a strong pull back for subtle notes, soft claps, and sometimes you can hear the bass, guitar, and drums playing but barely being touched. That skillful restraint is hard learned on musicians. Favorite lyric: “I’d rather die holding one another. Your hand in mine,it’s easy and it’s not for understanding why. The world is out of color. One life ties to another.”
“Lane Boy” from TOPxMM: 21p fans and Mutemath fans absolutely lost their shit when this collab album seemingly popped up in our inbox one night. Even better, it came with a full video of the recording/performances where MM remixed a handful of 21p’s super songs and made them an elevated ladder of dreamy synth, giving the band a more clear cut sound, rather than just a duo. And what an introduction it was. This song has 21p drummer Josh playing an epic drum off with MM Darren King.
“Light Up” from Vitals: A very different approach to their other songs on this list, with its heavy bass, and while it poses as a fun and funky song, it’s a very real lyrical masterpiece. It bends and turns, making you think that it’s a breakup power song but at the end it’s showing the way the band and love matures. It’s about being timeless, learning the ways of the world and loving anyway. This is why they are successful; they have found a different way to approach a love song, empower the listeners, and give us all hope! Favorite lyric: “Don’t say enough, we’re not out of love, we just grew up having to find out that… hearts go astray, sparks slip away, But I have to say, I still light up for you. I still believe!”
“War” fromPlay Dead: Soul personified. The new album teaser song was gearing us fans up for one hell of an album coming. The signature instrumental with some new fun elements where you can actually distinctly hear the bassist, and it tends to lean heavy on onion-vocals. So many levels and octaves you can’t fathom it’s one vocalist. Very much a song of 2017 – War is coming for you and damn this one you will enjoy. Favorite lyric: “Nice try, cross enemy lines, look out for the mines, buried in the mirror.’
See all you badasses on tour, I’ll be the extremely short weirdo gal in the photo pit with the thick black-rimmed glasses and Sheila will be the emo girl crying in the front row center most point. Come jam with us!