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Muertos were one of the finds of 2018 for me and it feels like I’ve been waiting a long time to catch up with them again.It finally happens at The Finsbury in North London at a gig put together by promoters Get In Her Ears. It’s great to see 4 bands (and all for free!) on the bill but travel time from the darkest depths of the South Coast plus a bit of socialising when we arrive means the Enjoy Yourself! crew then miss the first 2 bands. We do get to see Junodef – a band I knew nothing about – and they turn out to be a real find as well. Their music is taut, angular and choppy with a churning post-punk bass sound. It’s brooding and experimental but still with good songs, great musicianship and nicely dark undertow to the whole thing. Definitely a band I’ll be seeing again. And in the unlikely event that anyone connected to Savages is reading… Junodef would make a great tour support!
There’s a good crowd in for this one and the excitement levels are up and the vibes are good as Muertos hit the stage. They build things slowly with ‘Find A Home’, jangling guitars and dual vocals from Marc Crane and DeAnna Avis before hitting a big thrashy expansive solo courtesy of Marc. They up the pace with ‘Little Rabbit Insane’; there’s a real voodoo throb undercurrent at the start and then a big grungy anthemic chorus. Drummer Tom Lewis, who is a joy to watch throughout as he’s clearly getting right into it, pounds away furiously and provides a solid foundation.
‘Write To The Devil’ this one from their earlier EP on Wrongway Records, again features the shared vocals that are so distinctive for the band (both have great voices) and is a simmering ghostly and vivid number, fuzzy gnawing guitars and wails of feedback. ‘She Is The Crawling Eye’ is a trashy classic from a sleazy psychedelic jungle alternate reality with a serrated vicious guitar sound during the chorus. By the time ‘Devastating Fool’ comes along it feels like we’re in a Tarantino movie. There’s an evocative Latin guitar sound and Dee demonstrates what a great voice she has in a vintage harmony style; timeless rock ‘n’ roll with a surreal edge.
‘Suck It Up’, the title track from last year’s fantastic debut album on Roadkill Records, is another seedy rocker; a cornered animal of a song which smoulders along for a while before punching you in the guts with a full on scathing fuzz punk guitar explosion, walls of effects and rock solid drums. From the very first listen I’ve always thought Dee sounds haunted on ‘Medicated No.99’; the dark lyrical content possibly being obscured by her beautiful singing and the steadily building direct and menacing sound. ‘Corazon’ changes the tone totally, musically like an outtake from a dusty Morricone western it’s beautifully sung in Spanish, but don’t be fooled by the apparent sweetness of the vocals; the odd phrase and word I can pick out tell a story of damage, bad company and broken hearts. It’s that epic cinematic Muertos feel coming through again! And yet again they change style on ‘Mirror’, a seductive bluesy stomp, impassioned and heartfelt vocals over dirty, swampy garage punk. ‘Spin’ is more straightforward, thumping fuzzed up punk rock with drummer Tom on a different planet! They close with ‘Dive’ a weird and wonderful mix of grungy aggressive rocker underpinned by a driving krautrock bounce. I’ve listened to this band quite a lot recently and although the sound is a very definite and almost characteristic one for them, they manage to fit in so many subtleties and nuances in the mix. The songs are direct and punchy but it’s all delivered with a smile and they leave the audience happy and buzzing tonight and the gig has been a great success – good effort Get In Her Ears, more of the same please!
Muertos sound on one level like they’ve stepped out of a world of exploitation movies, devil cults and doomed tragic love stories but underneath that beat glamorous side there’s a darkness and a hidden twist to them. If you need an escape into a trashy world of cinematic rock ‘n’ roll noir then let Muertos be your guides.
Words: Gary Powell for Enjoy Yourself!
Images: Dave Taylor for Enjoy Yourself!