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Your Bloated Corpse Has Washed Ashore

Puerto Muerto
Your Bloated Corpse Has Washed Ashore!
(Fire Records)

The husband and wife duo of Tim Kelley and Christa Meyer, Puerto Muerto have created a debut album of 19 tracks that sound something like what you may expect from an album titled, Your Bloated Corpse Has Washed Ashore! An odd mix of jangly sea-shanty songs, spaghetti-western influenced ballads, and just plain fun songs of misfortune and abandon. Nearly all the tracks on the disc are recorded with a slight rough edge that only adds to the presentation of the lyrical theme.

The first three tracks on the album give you a good idea of what to expect, as they run a fair range and feature both vocalists alone and in duet. The opening track "Silver Shoes" rambles along like a lonely gunslingers lament with acoustic guitar and slight percussion while Kelley and Christa pair up for a nice harmony on the verses while Christa adds spooky falsetto to the dusty chorus. On "Jean Lafitte," Christa takes lead vocals on a loose song that sounds like a drunken pub song. Her vocals feel a bit strained on the track, and it's only later on in the disc that you realize it was done that way on purpose. The low-slung "Go Home" follows up both tracks with a thick upright bass swagger and clattery percussion that recalls Tom Waits without the gruff vocals.

From there out, the disc goes through many more styles while still holding a fairly cohesive theme. "Blood Red Wine" again finds Christa on lead vocals and when not singing with a drunken slur (as on the aforementioned track), she pulls off a sultry croon for the fatalist lyrics. On the vintage-record sounding "Das Vidania," she sounds very nearly like a slightly less confident Paula Frazier (which isn't a bad thing). The group isn't afraid to rock out, either, as on the electric guitar and drawbar organ backed "Annabelle/Sorrow" (one of the most polished tracks on the release). Listening to it outside the context of the record, "Baby" could even be mistaken for a track by The Magnetic Fields.

While there are tracks that run on for a bit too long ("Streets Of Marseilles"), the album is propelled by sort of a loose energy that keeps it buoyant for the majority of the time. During the finale of "San Pedro" when both vocalists have reached a coarse vocal-chorded screaming refrain, you'll be hard-pressed not to yelp right along. At 19 tracks, a couple songs could have probably been pared (as some of them sound pretty similar), but as mentioned above, songs of folly are all about getting caught in the moment, and that's done quite well. Aye! Pass me another bottle of rum!

Rating: 7.5