Friday, April 24, 2009

Hallowed
Ground

The
Curious
Mystery,
Rotting
Slowly, K
Records
[5/19/09]

Curious Mystery lays claim to the same sort of hallowed
ground carved out by David Roback's Opal and Mazzy Star. More
recent practitioners of the narcotized proto-punk blues include
Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, Scout Niblett, She Keeps Bees, and P.J.
Harvey on To Bring You My Love. I'm a sucker for this kind of
thing, so Rotting Slowly is right up my...lonely avenue.

Granted, it's a formula: smoky chanteuse, usually an alto, confes-
ses her darkest secrets over slow-motion guitar (with slide inter-
ludes), minimal bass, and jazzbo drums (heavy on the brushes),
but like any formula, it only seems tired when executed poorly.

Though guitarist and Texas trans-
plant Nicolas Gonzalez takes the mic
on occasion ("Teeth of all Types," "It's
Tough," and "Community Bed"), with
Shana Cleveland (banjo, guitar, auto-
harp) providing backing vocals, Cleve-
land is the band's secret weapon (if she
goes off-pitch on "Go Forth and Gather,"
her seductive voice helps to compensate).
Faustine B. Hudson (drums, gong, dinner bell, plastic tube) and Bradford Button (bass guitar) complete a Seattle-based line-up that boasts some of the coolest names in rock. (If you run an Amazon search on the band's name, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button shows up among the results).

If I've never heard of an artist before, I don't tend to expect
much, because buzz travels louder and faster than ever these
days, and Curious Mystery was new to me until a day ago.

So, I turned on Slowly, with no preconceptions about what was
about to unfold. By the third song, a frisky instrumental, I realized
this is one of my favorite CDs of the year. If you like any of the ar-
tists above, along with the Black Angels, you may feel the same.



Endnote: For more information about Curious
Mystery, please click here. Images from Flickr
(Jay Cox; 02/08 at the Mars Bar) and the AMG.

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