What the eff is a wrinkle neck mule? Who knows? The band ain’t giving the origin up either. Claiming only that a wrinkle neck mule is a band (4, sometimes 5) of fellas trying their best to make their way in the hyper hyphenated world that is Americana/alt.country/southern-rock. Coming out of Richmond, Virginia the quart/quintet released their third full-length back in May.
I fell in love with the Mules the first time I heard their 2003 debut, Minor Enough. Matter a fact, had this blog existed back then the cd probably would have made my top 10 list of 2004 (when i heard it for the first time). It was a perfect album for fans of Lucero/Drive-By Truckers and that ilk. Then along came Pull the Brake. Interesting cd that one was. I really couldn’t sit here type anything bad about it but, really, in the end I couldn’t type anything good about it either. Which was a real bummer cause I was so excited to talk about that cd on here but in the end, it just felt bland and uninspired to me. It couldn’t hold my attention and quickly got replaced by Minor Enough in the car again. Now; along comes The Wicks Have Met. Was Pull the Brake just a sophomore slump or were the Mules heading in a different direction than myself? That very question is why it took a little under 5 months for me to finally move The Wicks Have Met from my wish list to a cd I actually owned.
A third cd can be quite defining for a band. Think Southern Rock Opera. Think Believe. Think Tennessee. Think III. All albums that one could arguably define those bands by….and that’s not a bad thing…not by any means. When you figure that a bands first cd is basically a greatest hits release of their barroom days the second cd can sometimes lack the connection to the band that the first one had and by the time you get to the third cd usually the band it used to their recording status and what you see is what you got.
Looks to me like we got a band whose pieces have come together and formed a single alloy. The Wicks Have Met takes the production quality of Pull the Brake and meshes it with the captivating songwriting of Minor Enough and that makes it an easy entry into my essential listening list for this year.