White Mud Freeway

While crashing department wine-and-cheeses at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Terence Bernardo and Mari Solivan discovered they had more in common than just an appreciation for bad, free wine—in no time they were trading guitar licks and sharing favorites from their eclectic music collections.

After college Edmonton-born Terence and native New Jerseyan Mari both moved to New York City, drawn by its vital music scene. Disenchanted with his experiences as a multi-media designer in the downtown art world, Terence wanted to start a rock band and apply his skills to the recording studio. With her strong vocals and similar musical sensibility, Mari was the perfect collaborator. They put their heads together and White Mud Free Way was born.

White Mud Free Way mixes electro-rock tunes with melancholic country-tinged waltzes. Indie guitar rock, folk, and electronica blend into a sound that defies easy classification. Amplifier magazine tried exhorting listeners to “Check out the off-key phrasings, the background sound-bites and the subtle electronic elements thrown on top of the acoustic baseline.”

The band’s current lineup also includes bassist John Hill (Dr. Israel, Shitake Monkey) and Conrad Choucroun (The Damnations TX, Warren Zanes). They play in and around NYC at venues such as Mercury Lounge, Maxwell’s, and Southpaw. For the past two years they’ve showcased in the CMJ Music Marathon, as well as the 2003 Pop Montreal Festival. They were also named finalists in the Pop/Rock category of the 2003 Independent Music Awards.

Last Year’s Junk was conceived in Terence’s bare-bones basement studio in Park Slope, Brooklyn. The band learned by trial and error, recording songs as they were being written and slowly honing in on their own sound. Everything was fair game, as their varied influences—from hip-hop to lo-fi rock, art-noise to American standards—surfaced in the songs that would eventually make up the album. The result is a diverse 10-track collection, painstakingly produced though still a bit rough around the edges, with catchy hooks and engaging lyrics. In the tradition of Beck and Yo La Tengo, Last Year’s Junk wanders from genre to genre, but holds together to form a mosaic that’s groovy and distinctive.

The Village Voice called the group “excellent!” and Amplifier Magazine determined the album “a real find.” The Montreal Mirror went so far as to call Last Year's Junk one of the year’s best albums. Later in 2004 White Mud Free Way will be featured in scratch-master DJ Kid Koala’s forth coming Solid Steel compilation on Ninja Tune Records, alongside Radiohead, Bjork, Autechre and Boards of Canada.