Storied soft rock for fans
To the cutthroat fans of Parks and Rec, this one’s for you. 10 years after the famed mini horse Li’l Sebastian’s memorial in the show, the infamous fictional band Mouse Rat, from NBC’s Parks and Recreation, released The Awesome Album with several hits from the series and more. Led by Chris Pratt’s character Andy Dwyer, this would be the band’s first real-life record—so to speak.
Released via Dualtone and Entertainment 720—a tip of the cap to the fictional entertainment company created by Aziz Ansari’s character Tom Haverford—the LP contains all the gems this TV series was crawling with, from a fan’s perspective. From the early season’s angst of “Ann Song” to the larger-venue specials like “Sex Hair,” it’s all roped into one place for the show’s die-hard fans.
Though speaking apart from the show, this album has stellar production quality. Dualtone has produced bands like Houndmouth, Shakey Graves and The Lumineers. This album features extractions from the show and some new recordings as well, though they all merge to have the sound and showmanship of a genuine band. Pratt’s voice is throaty and lays down easily on each track, while the rhythmic guitar adds a bit of grit to the tracks one by one.
There are several feature performances on this album that stand out. “Cold Water” features Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy (known on the show as Scott Tanner, the enigmatic frontman of Land Ho!), and Nick Offerman’s character Duke Silver on the saxophone. This folk-rock tune smoothly plays out as an easy-listening benefit to an album with many different parts. Though on the opposite end of the spectrum from Land Ho! is “Pickled Ginger,” another bonus track with Tweedy in a hard-rock anthem from the show’s Pawnee-Eagleton Unity Concert. This song has a much sharper edge and a muffled, brash guitar melody, unlike the other tracks.
Offerman’s character (Duke Silver) is based on his love to play the saxophone, which he does very well. He is also featured in “Catch Your Dream” with a prominent opening riff straight from the bowels of his jazz talent. It punches straight out of the mark and is an interesting segue to the rest of the song.
Mouse Rat also covers two classics made famous by Frank Sinatra: “The Way You Look Tonight” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Pratt’s vocals and the soft-rock twist of these songs are light-hearted and amusing, adding a new rendition to songs that have been covered many times. Nonetheless, the sound is not distinct but is pleasurable.
Mouse Rat’s The Awesome Album is the perfect antidote for Parks and Rec fans’ long separation from the show. This album might add a break to one’s continuous binge-watching of old episodes or be a new addition to one’s library. Both are great options for those who choose to download but know that these songs all have a purpose in the fabric of a false small-town in Southern Indiana.