Blood Meridian, “Kick up The Dust”
V2 Records (July 25th release date in Canada; August 8th Worldwide)
Band members: multi-talented Shira Blustein (organ/piano/vocals), Matthew Camirand (singer/songwriter), Jeff Lee (guitar/vocals), Kevin Grant (bass/vocals), Joshua Wells (drums).
I’d rather be kicked in the face than hear Kick up The Dust again. Named after the blood-bath novel that depicts the extremely bloody border struggle to remove (read: kill) Native Americans along the Texas-Mexico border by Cormac McCarthy, the band from Vancouver, British Columbia – executes along their namesake’s lines in their newest release on V2 Records. It is painful, in that existential “each of us is alone, and life is just there” kind of way.
Blood Meridian visits a full range of negative and morose experiences and emotions in their songs, expressed through their signature musical genre that mixes folk, country, blues, rock-a-billy, and present-day rock. Their use of depressing material is too true and too real, which might work against them.
It’s an odd contradiction: to market music involves making the music and the band’s image edgy and likable. And yet, the message on this CD is deliberately ugly, dealing in every day ordeals; it is not easily swallowed whole. Kick up the Dust goes down like shards of glass.
To sell, make yourselves seem cool and untouchable, yet make me feel like I’m in the “in” of your crowd. Make it a place I want to be; not want to run from.
Trouble is, I already am there, in the depths of my own soul. Kick up The Dust is not an escape, it’s forcing a closer examination of my life. And, I don’t like it one bit – I want an escape. The lyrics seem unremarkable, the music seems at first not to move me, and yet they’re playing every person’s song and it touches a nerve.
In the CD jacket, the band is pictured in the liner notes wearing forlorn looks in plain clothes, cover art alluding to a bludgeoning of spirit, and the lyrics speaking candidly of life’s downfalls, without flowery literary flair.
A closer look at the cover art is just plain scary. There’s a Western frontier man sitting hunched over on a horse with a gun in one hand and a scythe-like instrument attached to his holster. As if that’s not creepy enough, the rest of the CD cover has war of the wicky-wicky worlds fighting in outerspace, ending with a space-beast/mythological creature who has a goat head emanating from his crotch. How did that goat head get there? (Yes, it’s mythological, and playing to Native American, Southwestern, Mexican, and the white cultures. I get that, but I don’t get IT.)
It frightens me, and not in the cool Ozzy-biting-heads-off bats sort of way. It’s not edgy, it’s ugly, just as life is messy. And yet, that’s why it is a brilliant re-creation of the existential perspective on human existence – nothing more than the truth, and it hurts. That’s the essence of Blood Meridian’s CD: Kick up The Dust.
Overall, lead vocalist Matthew Camirand’s monotone singing and his falsetto (did someone hit him to hit those notes?), the band’s understated lyrics and music, and rather traditional use of rock-a-billy, blues, country, rock, and folk speak to personal struggle. It’s refreshing to hear Blood Meridian bring in the country, folk and classical instruments uncommon to rock: banjo, bongos, chains, and hooks (Josh), organ, piano (Shira), and upright bass (Kevin) to name a handful.
Your Boyfriend Blues
It’s just so melodramatic, yet haven’t we all felt that way? It’s just very cool to hear a guy (Joshua) actually playing the banjo in 2007. And they even add in some tremolo guitar.
Work Hard For What
I like this the least, probably because I deal with the same thing in my life as a writer every day – get a day job and write on the side, or try being a full-time starving artist? Favorite line: “Take your job and shove it up your ass.” I’ll try that one at my side job.
Let It Come Down
Second-guessing your choices when you’ve played all the cards you can play and you love someone, and they don’t love you back. I would love to hear an upbeat cover of this song, any musicians out there want to do it?
Here, Blood Meridian goes country, with Joshua’s banjo-playing eliciting visions of a horse moseying along the Southwest, with falsetto-folksy singing between Matthew and Shira. It recounts one of those rare days when you just want to throw yourself under your desk and not come out.
Soldiers of Christ
True and disconcerting, though not very original, this could be the CD’s anthem. It’s all about bloodbath in the name of God, and then wondering what would God think. It has more traditional rock – an enmeshing of folk, country, blues, etc – than the other songs. Organ is an original accompaniment to the guitar, and it’s interesting how Shira switches between organ and piano on this track. She’s a busy woman here.
Kick up The Dust
It is a simple song, with a morose, what the fuck attitude: our friends are dead, and God doesn’t care, so drink and cuss.
In The Forest, Under The Moon
This is the most amazingly artistic song on the CD, and is the exception to the existential “I don’t care” theme: literary, beautiful while speaking of pains caused by regretful acts.
Listen carefully, because that’s Matthew Camirand singing in falsetto us quite a feat for a man. Shira and other vocals harmonize roughly with Camirand, and I believe it’s for effect.
Too bad it’s not a sea-faring CD, for this song alone. Like the previous track, it’s very visually stimulating. This lengthy ballad is driven by a snare drum that wanes and waxes as guitar gives and takes the lead.
Try For You
Whistle along, mosey along, and sing as Matthew Camirand recounts Midnight Cowboys who had a one-night stand sit by the phone waiting for one another to call.
Get Someplace Else is about angst, baby! I Don’t Believe is just plain morose.
We already have the first track, telling the boss to shove it up his ass. But, I like the bluesy version with twangy, tremolo guitar, screaming guitar and wiggy organ on this one. And the drums are just playing a basic rock beat.