I’m a song man, really. For me a piece of music stands or falls from the song structure and content, regardless of genre, and that’s the first thing that made me hit the replay button: the songs are strong and do what songs are meant to do: draw you in, intrigue you, instil a sense of movement so you have the sense you’ll be taken somewhere and maybe even be brought back again afterwards.
EP The Room by Berlin-based grunge band Murmur Tooth is a feisty mudfight of sound
The mix of female vocals, grunge guitars, catchy choruses and dark textures gives the character to The Room by Berlin-based grunge band Murmur Tooth. Strong songwriting and effective vocal harmonies make you go back and listen again. Insistent melodies and a pop sensibility provide a compelling counterpoint to the Nirvana-esque heaviness in mood and sound, and make sure that The Room doesn’t fall prey to heavy-heavy cliches.
It lifts you up and presses you down at the same time
Leah Hinton is the singer of Murmur Tooth. Originally from New Zealand, she started avant-metal band El Schlong in NZ before going with them to Europe where they spent ten years on the road between Europe and Australasia. Eventually the other two went home and Leah stayed in Berlin. Not finished with music yet, she set up Murmur Tooth with a girl drummer (Claire Janini) and a boy bassist (Adam Brown) and carried on.
As well as doing lead vocals in Murmur Tooth Leah also recorded and mixed the EP and so she has obviously had a strong hand in making the overall sound what it is. She’s talked about how hearing Nirvana’s Bleach album as a teenager provided a turning point in her life; leading her away from a life of “calculus and physics and chemistry”, plus classical piano, and into a life of rock music; and those early influences are palpable here.
Reminded me of classic Offspring
The EP comprises four songs, starting with my favourite track, a quite jumpy My Knees Are Clean that reminded me of classic Offspring, the strong vocals and good harmonies to the fore, as well as a bit of classic quiet-loud-quiet grunge style to keep the tension going and the brilliant line “A whiskey for your thoughts”. Must be a good live one, that one.
A kind of euphoric claustrophobia
The rest of the EP keeps you relentlessly under its thumb. It lifts you up and presses you down at the same time; induces a kind of euphoric claustrophobia: when Leah heard Nirvana’s Bleach she described it like this: “dark and tense, but pensive, and roused to life’s possibilities.” And that’s exactly how I feel about Murmur Tooth’s The Room.
Here’s hoping there’ll be an album to follow.
Noel Maurice is one of the founders of indieberlin. Originally from the UK via a childhood in Johannesburg, he has been resident in Berlin since 1991. Describing himself as a ‘recovering musician’, he is the author of The Berlin Diaires, a trilogy detailing the East Berlin art and squat scene of the early 90s, available on Amazon and through this site.