The Beards & Julien Poulsen - Muskito (CD)

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Venetian Band The Beards team up with Julien Poulsen (Cambodian Space Project) on this musical re-imagination of the life of the last living Aboriginal man on the island of Tasmania



The Beards is a original spaghetti country blues band with dirty and heavy sound from Venice, Italy.
The group has released 4 albums:
- Mephisto Potato Sauce (2007),
- Diggin’Fingers(2008 Ancient Records)
- Widmann’s Mansion (2012 Woodstock Records) Mid Tenn’s Review is Here
- Muskito (2012 Metal Postcard Records).

They have been in tour in the U.S.A (travelling through 11 states and playing in great stages like: Smith ol’ Bar in Atlanta, Legends Corner, Tootsie and The Stage in Nashville, Poorhouse in Charleston and more), Europe and Australia.

This album is an absolute surprise! WOW! If someone had told me that I would listen to a “spaghetti country” album and then tell me I was going to like it, I would have laughed in their face. But, Muskito fits that bill just right, up to the part when I’d laugh. I’ve just listened to the album and I’m not laughing. I love it, there are so many influences throughout the album, ranging from an old pub sing-a-long style up through the 80′s power ballads, with a twang of course, and beyond. The Beards have certainly defined the genre “spaghetti country” and this album is a huge success.

The title track, “Muskito” has a 60′s feel to me. But at the same time, it has a sound that is all it’s own. A very catchy beat, with deep scratchy vocals helps this song bring the story to life. The lyrics have a dark undertone, but it fits into the story, and the genre, perfectly.

“Drunky Sailor” has a quirky feel in contrast with the rest of the album. A kind of fun attitude in the middle of the song that sobers up a little toward the end of the song, bringing to mind an old fashioned pub-sing which keeps it fun and a little whimsical. Even the most dramatic lives need a little fun for some balance, right?

“Ghost Ship” reminds me of old Johnny Cash music I grew up listening to. It’s a haunting tune, with soulful vocals and provoking lyrics. The female vocalizations toward the end of the song bring that haunting sound out further still. I like this song quite a lot.

“Fugitive Dance” makes me think of the folksy sounds of Scottish singer/songwriter Amy MacDonald, though the vocals are rather reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen. I love the whistling in this one, it really helps to tie in to that spaghetti western feeling.

“Blood Red River” puts one in mind of The Doors. Very trippy – I mean who puts the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme into a song? The backing vocals bring to mind Fleetwood Mac arrangements, which shows more of the various influences The Beards have soaked up.

“Campfire Procession” also fits into the story perfectly. The song makes you think of sitting around a campfire on the old trail, swapping stories and settling down to get ready for the long drive, or hunt in this case. I really, really like it!

“No Stopping Now” was kind of a surprise – doesn’t really fit with the “spaghetti” theme – but it’s not an unpleasant surprise, makes me think of the power ballads of groups like Poison back in the 80′s. As a teen in the 80′s, those songs hold a place in my memories and heart.

After the brief intermission, it’s back to the album theme with “Awful Carnival” musically it’s very good and has good tempo. You’ll be tapping your feet along with many of the songs on this album.

“Betrayer” puts an accordion in play, and you don’t hear them much these days. Accordion can be pitchy and loud, but in this song it’s subdued and again adds that haunting quality to the melody. This song has a slower pace, and is beautiful. Back to speeding the pace up we have “Jailbreak”, and you can’t help but think of AC/DC. Once you listen to it, you will get it. The guitar is a fairly prominent character in this one, it comes in almost as if in response to the vocals, kind of a back and forth dialogue, very cool.

“Gates of Hell” is a fitting end to the story. It slows things back down a bit, and feels like it’s being played in an old-timey saloon. This song is slow dance worthy, and I love the vocals.

The Beards and Julien Poulson have outdone themselves. Muskito really has that spaghetti western feel. Not only has it told it’s story, but it has a cadence that brings that story to life. You can just picture the dust and tumbleweeds blowing across the landscape, and for me that is what makes this such a successful album.

Muskito is an epic tale set in Van Dieman’s Land but told in the tradition of Italian opera. It is a fictitious adaptation of Tasmania’s early and complex Aboriginal and Colonial histories.
Set in a lawless Van Diemen’s Land, Michael Howe, leader of a wild bunch of outlaws, roams with impunity.
At one point Howe’s banditti becomes so powerful he taunts Lieutenant-Governor Davey by declaring himself ‘Governor of The Ranges’.
A reward is placed on Howe’s head and numerous bounty hunters and soldiers are dispatched into the wilderness.
Soon the hunter becomes the hunted as a mysterious tracker named Muskito joins the pursuit and Michael Howe’s bush kingdom comes crashing down around him.

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