The first full-length record from David Mueller’s solo side project Head On Sticks, Mocking Bird, is playful, contemplative and creative, but it also lacks focus and consistency.
In an interview with New Raleigh, Mueller says he was inspired to write this album after hearing a variety of mocking bird calls in Cameron Park. This is reflected through the sheer number of musical ideas in the songs and most obviously in the mocking bird samples he uses.
This mish mash of sound feels refreshing at first, but quickly becomes overwhelming. "Lady’s in the Lake" builds off of a solid groove and then will make heads spin. "Tompe La Mort" doesn’t seem to go anywhere musically and "Sex Wedge" jumps all over the place before settling on a drum and some lame sounding vinyl scratches.
Mocking Bird gets better when Mueller becomes more conservative. The stretch of songs from "It Doesn’t Matter Now" to "Moth or Flame" is tamer and is built on a bed of fuzz. It’s less adventurous than the first half of the album, but the songs flow together much better and the sense of musical direction is clearer.
If you take them out of the context of the album, the songs are more enjoyable. All together, they simply swamp the listener and make the album difficult to get through.
On Mocking Bird, it sounds like Mueller was excited about a myriad of musical ideas and tried too hard to fit them all into one album.
Heads On Sticks will celebrate Mocking Bird’s release during Local Beer, Local Band at Tir Na Nog on November 11 with Bright Young Things and Gray Young.
Mocking Bird is available for free digitally via the band's Bandcamp page.