Munley & the Lee Lewis Harlots

Munley & the Lee Lewis Harlots (Alternative Tentacles / Smooch)

SXSW Records

Munley & the Lee Lewis Harlots

(Alternative Tentacles/Smooch)

Jay Munly of Slim Cessna's Auto Club conspires with the Lee Lewis Harlots and takes us on a harrowing tour through the darkest crevices of the human soul. Munly devours his poetically transgressive subject matter with the unhinged drama of a Nick Cave or Gordon Gano, while his backing collective evokes the isolation of eastern Colorado's high plains with stark, unrelenting string arrangements and female choruses. Imagine the New Christy Minstrels stopping to give Charlie Starkweather a ride. Yet Munly's frayed combo of organic country, folk storytelling, and high gothic remnants is too well-versed to be mere affectation. That's what makes these songs so creepy. "Another Song About Jesus, a Wedding Sheet, and a Bowie Knife" assumes soul-jarring profundity by likening the blood sacrifice at Calvary to the blood of sexual penetration. "Goose Walking Over My Grave" goes a step further by having a woman plead with her husband to punch her in the stomach so her baby will die. By contrast, the protagonist cleaning his wife's false teeth in gasoline on "Of Silas Fontleroys Willingness to Influence the Panel" is sheer levity. Although the songs themselves provide plenty of wince-worthy imagery, the disc comes with a DVD of accompanying photographs and spoken-word versions. This flip side of frontier nostalgia makes you want to sleep with the lights on. (Saturday, March 19, 1am @ Jackalope)

***

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