Mischief Brew - Smash the Windows (Cover Artwork)

Mischief Brew

Smash the Windows (2005)


Before I review this outstanding album let me give you a little background information on Mischief Brew. Mischief Brew is a folk-punk band from Philadelphia, PA, a rowdy group of ramblers led by Erik Peterson (guitar, vocals). When Mischief Brew records albums they play with a whole slew of collaborators from various bands. Some collaborators on this album come from bands such as Leftover Crack, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Guignol, and the Hold Steady. During live shows Eric either plays solo acoustic acts or electric shows backed by Shawn St. Clair (bass) and Chris "Doc" Kulp. No matter if the show is acoustic or electric you can expect a sweaty, chaotic basment show packed with drunk crusties.

Now onto reviewing Smash the Windows, Mischief Brew's first real full-length. The musical sound here is a mix of folk, punk, swing, jazz, and even some country. It makes you feel as if you are wandering the country with nomadic gypsy pirates who cause mischief and play boisterous music with a wide variety of instruments. Some instruments featured on this album include mandolin, junk percussion, bodhran, trumpet, marching drum, marimba, squeeze box, and clarinet. Some people reading this review are probably thinking, "how can these guys make punk music with such an odd array of instruments?" I assure you these guys are punk as fuck (or should I say punk as folk). After listening to these songs it made me want to start a riot and go looting.

Enough with the musical aspect of Mischief Brew. The part of Mischief Brew that really makes it great is Erik Peterson's superb songwriting. In songs like "Nomads Revolt," "The Lowly Carpenter," "Departure/Arrival" and others we're shown Erik's exceptional anarcho-punk lyrics. My favorite lyrics occur in "Roll Me Through the Gates of Hell" with lines like "if you offer pink or blue I'll take the blackest / if you offer one or two i'll offer three / and on the border of utopia I'll test you anarchy."

This is DIY folk-punk at its finest that rivals early Against Me!, Defiance, Ohio, Ghost Mice, and This Bike Is a Pipe Bomb. Give it a listen -- you'll love it.