MUMBLE AND PEG with PONY DA LOOK, THE SHUT-INS and jj nobody and the regular at the El Mocambo (464 Spadina), Monday (April 9). $5. 416-968-2001. Rating: NNNNN
To hear him gabbing pleasantly down the line from his day job at a band booking agency, you'd never guess that this Erik Carter is the same sad sack who alternately moans and seethes through clenched teeth as throat and guitarist with Bay Area combo Mumble and Peg.Yet part of what makes Mumble and Peg such a gas is that Carter vents spleen (even going so far as to admit the band hates its audience in the song Resigned), supported not by speed metal or even hard rock but by chiming acoustic pop that, though occasionally goosed by a lonely banjo strum and sinister organ growls, pretty well stays hushed and candlelit.
Carter admits that the dichotomy between words and music has led to misunderstandings about just where Mumble and Peg ought to be filed in shops. Broadly speaking, folk and rock both fit, but the group's third full-length release, the swish All My Waking Moments In A Jar (Vaccination Records), is darker and more angular than such garden-variety tags suggest.
Moreover, neither term conjures the use of a vacuum cleaner and "backward things," both of which are listed amid trombones and bass in the liner notes for the new record.
"I'd be happy if our records were filed in the rock section," Carter says, admitting that he booked his band's tour on his own time to avoid potential conflicts of interest with club owners also bidding on his clients.
"We always seem to get filed under folk because I play an acoustic guitar. Since this is our third mis-filed record, I finally contacted our distributor and said, 'Um, is there any way to change that?' They were, like, 'God, yes.'
"People go to the folk section looking for Fairport Convention. I mean, even Nick Drake and Ani DiFranco are filed under rock in most stores. People tell me this is really strange music. My response is, 'No, it's not. It's pretty mainstream.'"
Maybe, but those souls who take exception to being told to fuck off -- even in jest, as in Resigned -- should probably take a pass.
"A lot of people take that song at face value, when really we're attacking the apathy that surrounds the music community.
"It's kind of a pity that music is almost exclusively performed in bars, because people have their own agendas for why they go to bars -- to find that special someone or whatever. So the music sometimes seems incidental.
"And it's not like we're not doing our part to help out the bar owners. We try to write really depressing songs that make people want to drink."