It would be easy to dismiss De Los Muertos’ eponymous debut as a hodge-podge of San Antonio rock clichés. Sure, there are disparate rock styles — particularly country, goth, and punk — writhing in a macabre
ménage. And the gritty production underscores the record with a carnival-esque sadness sure to remind you of the first time you threw up at the White Rabbit. But DLM strike a sublime balance between genres, avoiding the multi-headed beast effect.
The voice of lead vocalist “Captain” Paul López recalls a more “metal” Dicky Barrett of the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. He displays a cheeky awareness of his voice against the ragtime piano in “My Heart” and, on “The Sights and Sounds of De Los Muertos,” he impersonates a maniacal carnival announcer. He and backing vocalist “Becca” are often in the throes of drunken call-and-response. Their punky canon on “Wanderer” actually word-paints the tune’s theme of being a modern drifter in the same sad routines. Meanwhile, the band presents “From Here to Acuña” like a lost spaghetti western theme, with Sergio Leone’s smirking seriousness intact. When the disc closes with the cautionary drug rocker “Coming Down Now,” the dual language is hard to ignore. This should have been a full-length.
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