Their name, Curious Mystery says so much. Curious instrumentation crossed with a mysterious sound as they fearlessly cover the gamut—a grab bag of indie noise rock, folk, psychedelia, country, and blues. It all works whether it’s attributed to their experimentation of sounds, or that they are just an experimental bunch, a breath of fresh air in an arguably stale climate. Trying to describe their genre to potential fans is like reciting a Last.fm blogroll; they would certainly reign with the most listings.
The title of their debut album, Rotting Slowly, makes sense too. Upon first listen, you can picture the moldy deterioration of Seattle area homes amidst damp cold oblivion. You feel the frigid night air as it travels to the bone, yet the shock is so invigorating that you’re ultimately left pining for more.
This four piece band includes Shana Cleveland and Nicolas Gonzales on vocals and guitar, along with Bradford Button on bass and Faustine B. Hudson on percussion. It’s the booming percussion and sedate vocals that drive the idiosyncrasies in their overall sound. The band does happen to call Seattle their home and you hear the influence of fuzzy guitar garage rock with languid apathetic vocals. But what makes it all compelling is their intoxicating love of roots music with an added country twang peppered with an array of homemade instruments.
The song structures are chaotic, heavy and rival label-mate Deerhoof with obscure time changes. Shared vocal duties between Cleveland and Gonzales are countered with bluesy instrumentals, all delightfully erratic and somewhat out of tune. “Dragon’s Crotch” and “Nicaragua” both automatically earn kudos for creatively awesome song titles, but also propitiously envelop these complex sonic textures with the help of an autoharp and a bluesy slide guitar. “It’s Tough” begins with a poppy blues riff, then jumps ship and evolves into an alluring almost cinematic chant. Cleveland’s coughing just out of the mic’s reach is an endearing addition to the organic edginess. “Black Sand” displays her inner Cat Power: beautifully brooding, stormy and tempestuous. The jam session between Hudson and Cleveland is a tousled impromptu alliance emulating the Memphis soul/rock grooves effortless honed by Steve Cropper and Al Jackson Jr. The beginning of “Outta California” makes you want to jump in your car and head up the interstate at suicidal speeds; it then shifts gears unexpectedly with slow slide guitars and longing, impervious vocality.
All in all, _Rotting Slowly _leaves you in a haze as you decipher the eccentric song structures with a mishmash of influential genres. Through the dismal landscape, Cleveland and Hudson take command of this outfit as their ingenious styling effortlessly support and drive the other. One can only wonder just how many more genres they can effortlessly weave into their aforementioned grab bag.