Published on October 8th, 2006 | by Hans Fruck0
Blood Meridian — Kick Up the Dust
A collaboration between, among others, Matthew Camirand and Joshua Wells of the Canadian bands Black Mountain and The Pink Mountaintops, Blood Meridian’s Kick Up the Dust is a shitty-tempered ode to blood and time, sawdust-on-the-floor dives, and mistakes that can’t be undone.
A bit like local band The Kill Devil Hills, Blood Meridian is knockabout country-rock, with the odd bluesy inflection. Occasionally the songs seem too laidback for their own good, too mellow to leave a mark. But like many good records, Kick Up the Dust ain’t quite what seems to be. Case in point: the gentle rhythms, falsettoed vocals, and plucked banjo of Most Days. It seems pleasant in a fairly undistinguished way – and then you listen to the lyrics: ‘Most days, and most nights/I love my life/But tonight, it could be the end’.
That’s Blood Meridian’s MO: lull you into a false sense of fuzzy well-being with their harmonies and their laidback country-troubadour thang, only to suckerpunch you when you realise you’ve been listening to a caustic, disillusioned toe-tapper about murder or suicide or some such.
This unexpected pairing of style and subject matter works a treat on rollicking sing-along extravaganzas like the title track, Kick Up the Dust, with its refrain of ‘Let’s kick up the dust/After all, it’s just the bones of our friends’. Well, there’s a sentiment you don’t come across every day. But now that they mention it, I wouldn’t mind kicking around the pulverised bones of my friends (I just have to outlive the fuckers first).
More conventionally dark-hearted, perhaps, is In the Forest Under the Moon, a murder ballad in which Camirand sings in an eerie falsetto ‘There’s a spot in the wood/where our love is buried’ and ‘They’re gonna come after me/I’m gonna hang from a tree’. Lyrically, it’s tar-black, but when that ‘La da-da da-dee’ refrain kicks in, you’ll be hard-pressed not to warble along with it.
Fittingly for a band that takes its name from Cormac McCarthy’s nightmarish masterpiece, Blood Meridian specialises in the sweat of the daily grind and the squalor and chewed fingernails of lurrrve and belief. Camirand summarises this sensibility best in Get Someplace Else: ‘A lonely road stretched out in the dark/It’s a shitty world with a shitty heart’.
In a world of over-sugared pop and R&B songs, Blood Meridian’s rage and cynicism are a public fucking service.