The true test of a band is how good it sounds live. The precision and power of the chords, the flowing rhythm of the bass, the drummer who understands there is more to playing than mezzo forte, the singer who communicates all this noise into something coherent and exciting, keeps the audience transfixed. This is becoming a bigger and bigger task in today’s musical climate. But Puddle of Mudd has either learned quickly from its discoverer (Limp Bizkit kingpin Fred Durst) and bands such as Staind that the group has toured with or they are just naturally gifted.
Whichever scenario you tend to believe, this opening band for Godsmack’s summer tour has what it takes for respectability and with Durst’s money, it’s a band on the verge of breaking big. Unfortunately, the group’s first release doesn’t quite measure up to its live playing, though it’s still a commendable effort. With the sadomasochistic “Control,” the drug spiral of “Said” and the whistle-catchy “She Fucking Hates Me,” lead singer and main songwriter Wesley Scantlin seems confident in his lyrical ability and his band, especially guitarist Paul Philips, who does some amazing acoustic work. But the rest of the CD suffers from Scantlin’s inability to decide whether he wants to be himself, Kurt Cobain or a screeching parody of singer Brett Scallions from Fuel. On songs such as “Drift and Die” and “Bring Me Down,” Nirvana’s influence is prevalent, but the band doesn’t have the magical spirit to convey its demons like Cobain did. Instead it winds up sounding like a dated grunge band. But there is talent here. And with Durst’s label hoping to duplicate the sweeping success of Staind this year, Puddle will become an even better live band to contend with. We can hope the group will be able to find itself and the ability to transport the magic from stage to studio for its next release.
Puddle of Mudd performs Wed., Oct. 31 at St. Andrew’s Hall.
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