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In Black and White

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Album Review

You have to give these guys credit: no one can tell them that ska-punk is over. On their sixth album and 16 years into their musical career, Mustard Plug are still sticking with the verities: sharp horn charts, big and crunchy guitars, vocals that are more enthusiastic than tuneful (though still fairly tuneful) and lots of gleefully skanking backbeats. "Gleeful" may not be not the first word that comes to mind on listening to these songs, though. In Black and White opens in an up-tempo but dark mood, with the dour "Who Benefits?" followed by the even darker "Over the Edge." "Hit Me! Hit Me!" brightens things up a bit and offers the album's first real hooks; by "You Can't Go Back" the band seems to have started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and "On and On," which is one of the album's strongest tracks, is also its most unapologetically poppy. This is where you can really hear Mustard Plug's 16 years of accumulated songcraft pay off. Then they go out with a two-fisted bang: the snotty and hilarious "Real Rat Bastard" and the horn-heavy, singsongy "What You Say." Most ska-punk bands celebrate their maturity by breaking up; this one shows signs of being in it for the long haul. Recommended.


Formed: 1991 in Grand Rapids, MI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Formed in 1991, Mustard Plug established itself as a hard-working independent band. The Grand Rapids, MI-based group, with the help of its label, the California indie ska-punk outfit Hopeless Records, repeatedly toured the United States, Europe, Japan, and South America. It made the rounds of two Warped Tours and participated in the Ska Against Racism tour. Mustard Plug began its career meagerly, releasing the cassette Skapocalypse Now! on its own Dashiki Clout label in 1992. (It would be re-released...
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In Black and White, Mustard Plug
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