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Songs Of Muerto County

Puerto Muerto
Songs Of Muerto County

The married duo of Puerto Muerto have churned out a slew of music (2 full lengths, a couple EPs, and several singles) over the course of the past couple years. They made a name for themselves with a sort of ramshackle folk rock on Your Bloated Corpse Has Washed Ashore before tinkering with all kinds of different styles on their Elena EP and See You In Hell full-length (to varying degrees of success).

Knowing their dark sense of humor and music style, their UK-based label Fire Records suggested they re-do the soundtrack for the cult movie The Wicker Man, but the felt that the movie was a bit too removed from their sound, so they suggested doing an "alternate" soundtrack for the equally cult-film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (which seemingly like all 70s slasher films, has recently been remade). At any rate, Songs Of Muerto County is Puerto Muerto's attempt at creating an actual soundtrack for the film, and just as I suspected, there's really no reason to tie it to the film itself other than for an interesting aside.

Having said the above, that's not a detriment to the album itself. The album stands alone fine by itself without needing to tie into any sort of gimmick, and that's a good thing (although the group is going to be touring soon, playing the music alongside the film for comparison). In fact, it feels like their most focused work since their debut release, dropping all the electronic tinkerings and instead focusing on what they do best. "Muerto County" opens the disc with a shorter track mixing banjo, guitar, strings, and the great vocals of Christa Meyer while "Ghostee" finds multi-part vocals from Meyer creating a creepy mini-choir while spaghetti-western percussion and guitars provide the backdrop.

The sounds of Morricone and some rough folk actually seem to provide a good majority of the influence on this release from the group, and it's those touches that made their first album so great. "Josephine" is a shambling track mixing wheezy accordion, rough guitars and harmonized vocals from Meyer and Tim Kelly (who provides a nice contrast with his deep bass) while "Road Song" finally finds the group rocking out a bit with electric guitars and a crisp rhythm section.

If the direct connnection wasn't implied by the artwork and title, one might never know that this was supposed to actually be the "lost" soundtrack to the aforementioned film. Then again, it does have a weird, woozy sort of windswept feel that the rough original version of the film contained. It was one that relied a bit more on mood rather than gore, and cinematography rather than shock-value, and the group seems to have captured that overall feel with this newest release. The idea is a bit gimmicky, but the execution is great. In the end, that's what counts the most.

Rating: 7