Desert Road –  Moonshine Booze (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

362305Whilst one end of the music industry seems always to seek perfection in a singular genre, the quest presumably to be the definitive rock band or the quintessential folk band, doffing hats to tradition and expectation, I for one prefer to get my kicks in a much more rowdy and rough hewn sort of place. The sort of dive that, if it were a real venue, featured bands which lived for the moment, smashed genres together to create their own musical worlds, dragged tradition kicking and screaming into the modern age, before getting it drunk and leaving it with barely the bus fare to home again. And if such a place did exist, Moonshine Booze would be the resident band.

Desert Road sounds like a head one collision at Robert Johnson’s infamous cross roads between Sergio Leone, Gogol Bordello, Tom Waits and Johnny Cash. Joe Strummer and the ghost of the late, great Nick Marsh were along for the ride and there is only a quarter of a bottle of absinthe left. To say that this is merely outlaw country or illicit blues just shows you how bad soundbites are at describing music, for this is something very different.

Rock, blues, country…it’s all in there for sure, there is a touch of punked up Old World musical traditions, barking at the moon Balkan vibes, chaotic klezmer and frenzied folk, but it is the New World that Moonshine Booze is really in love with. Death Melody seems to hold the answers, a brooding dirge which bridges the gap between their European home and their Spaghetti Western hearts, but mostly they are unashamed in their love of this imaginary frontier territory that they have created for themselves. World of Pain is Tom Waits playing cowboy campfire songs, Lemon Box is a punkgrass hoedown and the title song is a saloon singalong on speed.

It’s a world of their own invention but it sounds like a great place to visit, if this album is anything to go by. It is the frontier world of the old west heightened, stretched, exaggerated, intensified, blown apart and put back together in a deliberately haphazard and provocative fashion. So, I have heard the sound track, now where do I buy the ticket?

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