Legend had it that Puerto Muerto was originally going to be a bar – a magnet for lowlifes to drown their sorrows or revel in debauchery, beer and liquor. Instead the husband and wife team of Tim Kelley and Christa Meyer decided it was easier to form a band.
But the intended client�le did not change and Puerto Muerto’s music became the soundtrack to the bar that never was. Music, and not alcohol, provides the intoxication for their bedraggled sonic barflies and Drumming For Pistols contains many a rousing song to accompany a drunkard’s evening.
If the producers of True Blood are looking for some soundtrack music then they need to look no further then Puerto Muerto. The highlights of Drumming For Pistols are heavily laced with sexy Southern Gothic. The album’s opener Song Of The Moon illustrates this perfectly as a bluesy foot stomper and an anthem for all those with a touch of the vampire or werewolf in them. It immediately draws you into the album’s world, as does Tamar’s erotically charged take on bible belt blues.
Thereafter the album shifts from the shantyesque booze-friendly title track to a mixture of slow ballads and rockin’ blues. The cuts successfully draw on their source material, be it biblical, literary or cinematic. There are also moments where cabaret is pushed to the fore, as in Arcadia, and it’s these theatrical moments that add a touch of Marmite to the album. On one hand they go a long way to making up the intended atmosphere, but others may argue that they lend an air of superficiality to proceedings.
Comparisons with Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra and the more recent Isobell Campbell & Mark Lanegan wouldn’t be wide of the mark; there’s certainly an element of Beauty And The Beast when you compare Meyer’s classically trained voice with Kelley’s low, atmospheric growl.
As a album, Drumming For Pistols is clearly a labour of love and it achieves its goals by doing a good job of evoking the world of the bourbon-sodden regulars of the fictional bar. This collection of swashbuckling tracks works well, is instantly accessible and will please fans of the duo, but they’re likely to fall short of transcending cult status. It’s all good fun, but perhaps missing the long, guilty hangover that will keep these tracks resonating throughout the morning after.