The other side of town

The Rockford Mules release “Ma They Broke Me.”

The Rockford Mules from left: Ryan Rud Erik Tasa, Joel Habedank and Craig Peck stand in the backyard of Craig’s South Minneapolis home on Monday.

Simon Guerra

The Rockford Mules from left: Ryan Rud Erik Tasa, Joel Habedank and Craig Peck stand in the backyard of Craig’s South Minneapolis home on Monday.

Conrad Schoenleber

WHAT: The Rockford Mules CD release show, The Gleam, Wizards Are Real

WHEN: Sat, Nov 13 âÄì 9:30 p.m.

WHERE: Cause Spirits and Soundbar, 3001 Lyndale Ave. S



ItâÄôs easy to forget that thereâÄôs another side of this city. We college students have it easy. Once you get outside of the University of Minnesota bubble, thereâÄôs another life known as the working class. One Minneapolis band makes music that represents that way of life.

The Rockford Mules make music that fits the atmosphere in Minneapolis.

âÄúOur feeling is, itâÄôs fall, the leaves are all on the ground, itâÄôs cold and thereâÄôs just something in the air that makes a guitar sound good,âÄù bassist Craig Peck said.

After five years and three different albums, The Rockford Mules have finally been gaining attention from the press, with the title track of their newest album, âÄúMa They Broke Me,âÄù becoming The CurrentâÄôs song of the day Nov. 11.

âÄúMa They Broke MeâÄù is a bluesy swamp-romp. It feels like what would happen if Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys  and John Fogerty decided to make a blues-rock album.Lead singer Erik Tasa especially channels Fogerty as he bites his way through his songs. Heavy lap steel guitar counterpointing TasaâÄôs vocals creates a sound that is unlike most Minneapolis bands.

âÄúMa They Broke MeâÄù is an album that draws off influences within Minneapolis, but still manages to capture its own distinct sound.

 âÄúYou canâÄôt really get away from Hüsker Dü and The Replacements. ThatâÄôs just what the city feels like,âÄù Peck said. âÄúIâÄôd like to think that we fit into the pantheon of Minneapolis music under a similar guitar-rock banner.âÄù

The album opens with âÄúMudfoot Barker.âÄù Fast-paced and commanding, it sets the tone for the whole album. The combination of TasaâÄôs yelping and rising guitar lines sets this track apart as one of the best on the album.

Things slow down on âÄúGoodnight Sunshine,âÄù a contemplative tune about long nights and the stress of being in a rock band. Tasa impresses by being just as capable at lower registers. ItâÄôs well timed, too, breaking from the pissed-off anthems of âÄúGot a Bullet That Says you WonâÄôtâÄù and âÄúHey John WayneâÄù that surround it.

The standout track of the album, however, is âÄúMa They Broke Me.âÄù It tells the story of a working-class Joe who struggles each day to make it, eventually cracking under his inability to succeed. The song is a blend of multiple genres, with changing tempos that cannot be an easy play live. ItâÄôs a powerful piece that inspires a desire to drink whiskey and reminisce.

This isnâÄôt to say the album is flawless. âÄúBlueboyâÄù and âÄúSon of HammerswingerâÄù lose momentum on an album packed with bluesy energy. The 7 1/2 minute âÄúDonâÄôt Tell Them What YouâÄôve SeenâÄù is just too long. It would have served better as a shorter song that broke down earlier on, rather than plodding to the finish.

In a city of music, The Rockford Mules give the listener a glimpse at a side that college students rarely see. Their working-class sounds are a breath of fresh air in the midst of an electro- and folk-clogged scene.