Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Review: The Deadly Snakes, Porcella, In the Red

Amazingly, I'd never heard the Deadly Snakes before their fourth full-length arived at my doorstep. I'm a little embarrassed to admit I'd never even heard of them, but then there are an awful lot of "snake" bands out there these days--the Charming Snakes, These Arms Are Snakes, Ruby Dee & the Snake Handlers, etc. It takes a little effort to keep them all straight.

In any case, Porcella, to be released on vinyl as A Bird in the Hand is Worthless (with different sequencing, cover art, and extra tracks), is pretty nifty. It's the Canadian sextet's first to feature a string section and it works quite well. There's plenty of brass, too, which brings to mind such far-flung artists as Sketches of Spain-era Miles Davis, Love, and Calexico. As with the UK's Gomez, the vocalists--Age of Danger (don't look at me, that's his name) and Andre Ethier--take turns on these 13 tracks. One sounds like a cross between Peter Perrett and Gordon Gano, the other like a reedy Nick Cave. I prefer the former, but both are all right by me.

Although I liked the album from the start, after living with it for a couple of weeks, I like it even more. Listening to Porcella is like hanging out with your longtime record clerk friend as he plays highlights from his extensive collection of vintage vinyl. Red wine is part of the equation, too. Bottomless glasses of it--and none of that cheap boxed stuff--his wine is as old as his records. Maybe you don't like everything he plays and maybe some of his scratchy old LPs skip, but all of it captures your interest. Everything has mood, texture, personality. He may not be one of the more mirthful chaps you know, but no one has ever accused him of being tacky or shallow.

Porcella is an ambitious recording that encompasses a number of different styles: folk, gospel, garage, etc. It's a mite pretentious at times, but highly recommended to fans of Van Morrison, Tom Waits, the Tindersticks, and fellow Torontonians Royal City.

Note: Image from the AMG.

No comments: