Generally I”m not a big fan of Blues, Roots, Folk or Jazz, but somtimes something in a band, album cover, or song intrigues me and I have a closer look – and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised by what I find.
I hooked onto Murder Mouse by accident (you can read about how Murder Mouse killed my cynicism on my previous Blog ) because the album cover and band name piqued my curiosity. Its taken me Forever! to write about their album, Filling the Hole, (I’ve been swamped with music fests all summer) but I wanted to do their album justice so have listened to it more than a few times.. and with each listen have enjoyed it more and found more little nuggets.
Apocalypse Blues: the title says it all – a song about the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. This song has a very bluegrass sort of twangy feel to it but is very full of sound; the slide guitar just ‘makes’ this song for me and the harmonica fits in perfectly without being overpowering.
Wang Dang Doodle: written by Willie Dixon, this version is straight blues; laid back, smokey cafe feel to the way Murder Mouse has reworked it and I quite like it. The vocals stand out on this song as does the soft drumming and again that slide guitar (gives you shivers). This is like a soft dance song, an old time waltz.
The Coast: Starts out electric guitar reminiscentof rocking blues like perhaps Emerson Lake and Palmer, or Eric Carmen. The vocals are less twang and more rock riveted, and still crystal clear (which I love about this band – I can hear the words). The chorus has an oddly Celtic sound to it as all the voices in the band join in amazing harmonies and the accents are more pronounced. A song about the land, about the greatness of the land and what the land has seen over the centuries. The rock, the solidness of it — the eternity of it. I LOVE this song! It’s the standout song on the album as it’s very different than the other more bluesy songs but I LOVE it!
Jelly Roll Blues – a little ditty with old style Bluegrass honky-tonk vibe and sound. Liner notes say that this song is written by the band (not a cover tune) and they’ve nailed the 50’s country feel in this tune.
Morning Paper Blues: a very slow, mournful hang-dog sort of song about being alone and being lonely. Harmonica makes this even more emotionally charged and unique… sort of reminiscent of Oh Brother Where Art Thou mournfulness… another of my favorite songs on the album.
Thirsty Frank: uptempo and interesting – a story of Frankie speeding and living life too fast and too hard likely due to a woman and a broken heart, and the fatal consequences of those actions.
President’s Blues: this song is so well written its astounding! It’s very Pink Floydish in the opening bars but that’s where the similarity ends. This song is from the point of view of the President of the country he oversees. A short story of his days and weeks and life with press conferences, speeches, interviews with the media and visiting constituents in each stop on the campaign trail – and asking each town for money ,”if they wanted someone to save them why didn’t they vote for someone who could.” It’s a sad song too, “Used to be an honest man, that was such a long time ago.” and the fact that the one who makes him feel like the president is actually his ‘sorrow and strength’ – his son who calls him daddy.
Fill the Hole: the title track has heavy guitar and sounds like The Pogues; very Celtic in the vocals, even more so than The Coast. Love the guitar. I can visualize this as an Irish Pub song with the audience participating and banging their tin beer steins on the tables as they sing.
Death Letter Blues: a little like a Western movie soundtrack – big, booming, larger than life feel to it. Almost a Spanish or Mexican flair to it from the guitar solo, to the bass line. I can see Antonio Bandaras as part of this 🙂
Dirty Old Town: This song’s lyrics were added to brand new music written by the band; a muted sax in the background that I could only pick up with ear buds in. Love the sound of the vocals in this song.. its much like an old 1950’s Nero Wolfe mystery, trollies and trams, old cars, underground Jazz clubs.. Love it!
Walking On – like a Bluegrass waltz. The vocals remind me a touch of Leonard Cohen; deep, resonant, gravelly but clearer and more melodic and more pleasing to listen to imho. Another song that really hits me in the right places.
All in all this is an amazingly good album. The vocals are versatile – the songs range from Spaghetti Western to Celtic to New York jazz to bluegrass but all the songs have one thing in common – the Blues. Murder Mouse has explored a variety of Blues rather than ‘just’ New Orleans Blues or ‘just’ Bluegrass or just being another Stevie Ray Vaughn wannabe. This album is definitely something you want in your collection.