Mumble & Peg's new album, All My Waking Moments in a Jar, changes moods like a smoked-out, pint-bleary manic-depressive on a pre-dawn caffeine high. As the title suggests, there's a somewhat claustrophobic, pressure-cooker edge to this recording — the East Bay trio's third for Oaktown label Vaccination Records — which gives it an ominous feel, as if the band's gonna burst out of its collective skin and shoot up the joint, Columbine style.
While the bubbling tension is cool, Mumble & Peg's true power lies in its heroic management — aka ratchet-tight songwriting — of chronic Gen-X malaise. (No, this theme didn't vanish with the dot-com boom.) Disgruntled and disgusted, the band forges gnarly, dystopic indie-rawk from cantankerous lyrics, snarling acoustic guitar, and a hard-hitting rhythm section.
On All My Waking Moments in a Jar the band blasts through a set of cranky and self-flagellating paeans to twentysomething antipathy. On the opening track, “Resigned,” scruffy lead singer Erik Carter sums up the group's sentiment with a yowling cry of “This is pointless!” Then he clarifies the, um, point with a brazen yet piteous chorus: “Fuck all of you!/ Mumble & Peg hates you as much/ As we hate me.” It makes you wanna take them home to Ma — in a tightly sealed jar — for some good old-fashioned, nonchemical healing. (As an added bonus, everyone's favorite schizoid balladeer, Wesley Willis, who wrote one of his trademark tunes in honor of Mumble & Peg, MCs the CD release bash.)