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Mike + Ruthy
Million To One

Review By Steven Stone

 

  Michael Merenda and Ruth Ungar met in 1998 in NYC shortly after they graduated from college. They almost immediately formed a folk trio along with Tao Rodriguez-Seeger. By 2003 they had added and drums and bass to form the group that most of their fans know as The Mammals. After years of touring almost constantly the group decided on a hiatus in 2008 so members could pursue other projects. For Michael and Ruth that side project is Mike + Ruthy.

So how does Mike + Ruth's music differ from The Mammals? First Mike + Ruthy are a more modern sounding amalgamation. Leaving banjos and fiddles for electric and acoustic guitars Mike + Ruthy have moved into the suburbs of the 50's and 60's. Some of the tunes, such as "Rise" remind me of another husband/wife duo, The Kennedys. They both have a similar energy and twangy aesthetic.

All twelve tunes on Million to One are co-written originals. Some, such as "Be The Boss," have a primitive rock and roll vibe with pentatonic riffs predominating. The title tune features a surf-rock beat coupled with folk-rock vocal harmonies. The resulting pop confection has the texture of Rocky Road smooth and sweet but with enough nuts and chocolate chunks to give the music some backbone. Mammals fans will find the last song on the album, Summer Sun," to be most Mammals-like, but it still has a more modern and less acoustic feel than anything you'll hear from the Mammals archives.

While still "roots" music, Mike + Ruthy's Million to One reveals another aspect of Americana moving from the 30's and 40's to a late 50's and 60's folk-rock style that had such a huge influence on everything that followed.

 

 

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