Mischief Brew - Bakenal (Cover Artwork)

Mischief Brew

Bakenal (2003)


Mischief Brew: Erik Peterson and crew, they're a fine folk punk band in the same vein as Andrew Jackson Jihad, Johnny Hobo, etc. Started in 2000 as solely Erik, it's evolved into a full band. This EP came out in 2003, and as is typical for Mischief Brew, it features catchy music and searing, intelligent lyrics.

The EP opens with "Devil of a Time", the instrumentation of which reminds of something that would play during the introduction of a Disney villain. The song is driven by the drums, playing a sort of sped-up country beat. It's good but it doesn't have the same power as other songs by the band. "Rambler's Ghost" is song number two, and starts with much more speed than the previous. Erik's vocals are a lot more strained for this track, and it sounds better. There's not nearly as much drums, either; instead, the country drums are replaced by a country bass. The way Erik's guitar sounds reminds me a lot of old Against Me!, which isn't a bad thing. The lyrics are well-written, too; Erik knows exactly how to tell a story with his words.

The album continues on to "The Drunk of Three Nights", sounding a lot softer than the others. It's an oddly structured song, but it sounds right where it's placed; however, it sounds pretty similar to "Devil of a Time". "Roll Me Through the Gates", meanwhile, sounds like Mischief Brew: Erik shouting while furiously strumming his guitar. Somehow, the mixing on his songs always have the perfect mix of his vocals and his guitar, and it's a good thing. His voice is something to marvel; even though it always sounds like it's ready to crack, it works so well with the lyrics and lyric delivery. "Anti-Lullaby", the last song on the EP, is an acoustic ballad. The intro, a slow buildup into the singing, sounds so heartfelt and honest. Even though it is an acoustic song, it still has a lot of power packed into it.

Lyrically, Mischief Brew are experts at writing songs. Musically, though, the songs seem to follow a similar song pattern. It's good, but it isn't until later releases that the band really hits their stride. The EP is a solid effort by all accounts, but with the length of some of the songs, it's easy to get bored with it. There are enough differences between songs to tell them apart, but there's not enough difference to really pick a standout track. It's good, but the band has better.