Myssouri are a local Atlanta act that are, i think, somewhat
unique. In one sense, they are a goth band, all dark imagery
of The Devil and violence and depression. On the other hand,
they are a western band, using slide guitars and a military
Recently they put out a call to their fans to come up with
a one line summation of the Myssouri sound. The various Minions
rose to the task, coming up with several of what we call "Myssouri-isms":
short pithy sayings that describe the combination of gothic
and western imagery. Here, for your enjoyment, is a list of
what we came up with:
- Satan's been rustling my steer.
- (Ian) Curtis' last stand.
- Ten gallon hat in my coffin.
- A spaghetti western starring Robert Smith.
- Love and death among the tumbleweeds.
- Peter Murphy on a cattle ranch.
- The Devil's on my shoulder and there's cattle in the barn.
- Melancholy at the OK Corral.
- The Good, the Bad, and the Undead.
- Rawhide! (said the corpse)
Okay, so perhaps we are approaching this with a little more
humor than such music usually entails. Still, ya gotta admit
that "Satan's been rustling my steer" is quality humor.
Another interesting thing about Myssouri is that they are TRUE
indie rock. They don't even try and find some obscure label
to release their music -- they do it all themselves. Furnace
Songs is their second self-released disc. It is an EP
and a follow up to 1999's Malamerica. What is
interesteing to me about this whole phenomenon is that Myssouri's
releases have all been exceedingly well produced. That is, i
would expect a band who does all of it's own releases to sound
a little "raw" on disc. Not Myssouri -- their sound is clear
and precise. They obviously spend a lot of time working to get
things perfect, and it shows.
Furnace Songs is 5 tracks worth of well produced
gothic western goodness. Let me examine each song in turn.
The EP starts off with Ride You Down, a song which sets
the disc moving with a strong rhythm, like a train, or driving
on the highway. Appropriate, considering the song title. Ride
You Down features competent guitars and vocals with insistent
drumming to good effect. I have listened to this disc many times,
and enjoyed this track much. Yesterday i took it to work to
listen to as i wrote code and prepared for this review, and
i discovered something subtle: if you listen to this on headphones
there are really eerie whispered backing vocals at certain points.
I didn't hear them until i had headphones on. Anyway, these
make the song much creepier with headphones than without.
Track 2 is called Malimony, which is a nice song with
slow mournful slide guitar. The drumming is less insistent here,
in fact, it kind of meanders throught the song, until the end
when drums, vocals, and guitars build to a really powerful crescendo.
That crescendo fades, and the next track Muscle Car On A
Dead End Road starts slowly. This track kind of plods along
until the chorus, where the song swells, the guitars thunder,
and vocalist Michael Bradley bellows. Suddenly, you are in the
muscle car with him, unwilling passenger as some possessed soul
tears dawn a dark road (presumable in West Texas somewhere),
fearing for your life and yet exhilarating at the speed and
terror of the ride.... This track is epic and good.
Next comes Devil On My Shoulder, which directly inspired
one of our Myssouri-isms. The guitars change on this song, becoming
punk-y and distorted. The insistent drum beat is back, carried
over from the end of Muscle Car On A Dead End Road, and
Bradley sings deep and dark. This track continues the paranoia/exhilaration
combo of the previous song. It ends with a flurry of EVIL: the
whole band joins Michael in yelling, as if Myssouri were the
"chorus of demons" in the song.
To wrap the EP up Myssouri give us a relief from the paranoia
of the last few tracks. One Holy Thing seems to offer
salvation where the previous songs offered only damnation. I
think this is because Bradley sings "Hosannah" repeatedly in
the choris, and i am taken back to my childhood singing that
in Catholic churches. This is a sad slow song, with beautiful
keyboards. It invokes the solemness of a Catholic Mass. The
song, and the EP, end with a long mournful guitar arpeggios.
Furnace Songs is a strong EP. It is very good
for it's genre -- goth or western rock. Myssouri do what they
do very well.
I must say one thing though: there is some ineffable quality
to their live performance that is not captured here. It could
be that Bradley sings with greater passion when there is a crowd
looking at him. It could be that the dynamic interplay between
the various musicians is greater when they play live as opposed
to in the studio. It could be that i am not as beer-buzzed listening
to this EP as i am at their concerts. Or it could be that a
mere piece of plastic can never quite express the sheer power
of a group of people gathered in front of you bellowing out
these songs as if the devil were, in fact, rustling their cattle!
This is an enjoyable listen, but if you have the chance, go
see them live.