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  Furnace Songs  
  Self Released  
Release Date:
  late 2000  
Reviewed by:

Myssouri are a local Atlanta act that are, i think, somewhat unique. In one sense, they are a goth band, all dark imagery of The Devil and violence and depression. On the other hand, they are a western band, using slide guitars and a military drum beat.

Recently they put out a call to their fans to come up with a one line summation of the Myssouri sound. The various Minions rose to the task, coming up with several of what we call "Myssouri-isms": short pithy sayings that describe the combination of gothic and western imagery. Here, for your enjoyment, is a list of what we came up with:

  • Satan's been rustling my steer.
  • (Ian) Curtis' last stand.
  • Ten gallon hat in my coffin.
  • A spaghetti western starring Robert Smith.
  • Love and death among the tumbleweeds.
  • Peter Murphy on a cattle ranch.
  • The Devil's on my shoulder and there's cattle in the barn.
  • Melancholy at the OK Corral.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Undead.
  • Rawhide! (said the corpse)

Okay, so perhaps we are approaching this with a little more humor than such music usually entails. Still, ya gotta admit that "Satan's been rustling my steer" is quality humor.

Another interesting thing about Myssouri is that they are TRUE indie rock. They don't even try and find some obscure label to release their music -- they do it all themselves. Furnace Songs is their second self-released disc. It is an EP and a follow up to 1999's Malamerica. What is interesteing to me about this whole phenomenon is that Myssouri's releases have all been exceedingly well produced. That is, i would expect a band who does all of it's own releases to sound a little "raw" on disc. Not Myssouri -- their sound is clear and precise. They obviously spend a lot of time working to get things perfect, and it shows.

Furnace Songs is 5 tracks worth of well produced gothic western goodness. Let me examine each song in turn.

The EP starts off with Ride You Down, a song which sets the disc moving with a strong rhythm, like a train, or driving on the highway. Appropriate, considering the song title. Ride You Down features competent guitars and vocals with insistent drumming to good effect. I have listened to this disc many times, and enjoyed this track much. Yesterday i took it to work to listen to as i wrote code and prepared for this review, and i discovered something subtle: if you listen to this on headphones there are really eerie whispered backing vocals at certain points. I didn't hear them until i had headphones on. Anyway, these make the song much creepier with headphones than without.

Track 2 is called Malimony, which is a nice song with slow mournful slide guitar. The drumming is less insistent here, in fact, it kind of meanders throught the song, until the end when drums, vocals, and guitars build to a really powerful crescendo.

That crescendo fades, and the next track Muscle Car On A Dead End Road starts slowly. This track kind of plods along until the chorus, where the song swells, the guitars thunder, and vocalist Michael Bradley bellows. Suddenly, you are in the muscle car with him, unwilling passenger as some possessed soul tears dawn a dark road (presumable in West Texas somewhere), fearing for your life and yet exhilarating at the speed and terror of the ride.... This track is epic and good.

Next comes Devil On My Shoulder, which directly inspired one of our Myssouri-isms. The guitars change on this song, becoming punk-y and distorted. The insistent drum beat is back, carried over from the end of Muscle Car On A Dead End Road, and Bradley sings deep and dark. This track continues the paranoia/exhilaration combo of the previous song. It ends with a flurry of EVIL: the whole band joins Michael in yelling, as if Myssouri were the "chorus of demons" in the song.

To wrap the EP up Myssouri give us a relief from the paranoia of the last few tracks. One Holy Thing seems to offer salvation where the previous songs offered only damnation. I think this is because Bradley sings "Hosannah" repeatedly in the choris, and i am taken back to my childhood singing that in Catholic churches. This is a sad slow song, with beautiful keyboards. It invokes the solemness of a Catholic Mass. The song, and the EP, end with a long mournful guitar arpeggios. Quite beautiful.

Furnace Songs is a strong EP. It is very good for it's genre -- goth or western rock. Myssouri do what they do very well.

I must say one thing though: there is some ineffable quality to their live performance that is not captured here. It could be that Bradley sings with greater passion when there is a crowd looking at him. It could be that the dynamic interplay between the various musicians is greater when they play live as opposed to in the studio. It could be that i am not as beer-buzzed listening to this EP as i am at their concerts. Or it could be that a mere piece of plastic can never quite express the sheer power of a group of people gathered in front of you bellowing out these songs as if the devil were, in fact, rustling their cattle!

This is an enjoyable listen, but if you have the chance, go see them live.

Related Links:
  The bands own website.  

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