Case Western Reserve University has produced a litany of local notable music acts: adult-contemporary pianist Jim Brickman, mash-up master Girl Talk and operatic soprano Brenda Miller Cooper (it’s true — we had to look that last one up).
Now members from the Chicago-based Mittens on Strings have joined the ranks of musical Case alums (mandolin player/vocalist Alex Preston and bass player/vocalist Jonathan Schenke were both onetime roommates of Girl Talk’s Gregg Gillis and both graduated in 2004).
The band’s post-graduate work includes their full-length debut, Let's Go to Baba’s, which is being released on vinyl today on the Mittens’ own SOUNGS label and will be made available digitally through a pay-what-you-want model on the SOUNGS website.
The album is full of iridescent, laid-back folksy rock. From listen one, you can tell Mittens members majored in the bygone narratives of Neil Young and Lou Reed, studying up on the fuzz folk atmospherics of Sparklehorse and Lambchop as extracurriculars.
Let's Go to Baba’s blasts off with “M2,” which sounds and feels like the lo-fi sunshine of the Magnetic Fields, mixing the rural roots rock of bands like the Sadies with the pop sheen of the Pernice Brothers. From “Big Brother” to “Vacation,” this 12-song set is a warm amalgam of guitars, cello, drums, mandolin, bass and four different vocal leaders (led by Preston’s laconic deadpan draws).
The whole album is full of little nuggets of fool’s gold, with tunes about lonely birds, lumbering giants and flaming pigs. It’s the kind of clever music you’d expect from the Case ranks, with an innovative business model to boot.
Download it for free if you like, but we suggest you give the guys a little donation, so they can make it back to Cleveland for a live spot before the end of the year.
And check out the world premiere of their new video above. —Keith Gribbins