Release Date: Oct 26, 2010
Record label: Abduction
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Psychedelic/Garage
When first putting the needle down on Funeral Maricahi, I expected to be in for the kind of crazy, unpredictable aural adventure that only Sun City Girls deliver. Having released over 70 recordings of adventurous and at times bewildering material fusing rock and various ethnic styles with an often aggressive avant-garde edge, odds were good their final studio album would be as wild as ever. Opening track “Ben’s Radio” certainly met these expectations, a tempo-shifting exploration of Eastern and African styles, accompanied by raucous group vocals.
Funeral Mariachi is the final studio album by the Sun City Girls, recorded a few months before drummer Charles Gocher's death from cancer in 2007. Richard and Alan Bishop formally dissembled the group in the aftermath. Funeral Mariachi is among, if not the, "straightest" set in the band's 27-year career. While it opens with the cultural clash of "Ben's Radio" -- which could have served as an introductory theme for the wild, genre-mashing field recordings issued by Alan's Sublime Frequencies imprint -- is a three-minute aural portrait of what made SCG such a compelling band in the first place, which is not the norm here.
After close to 30 years and something in the vicinity of 50 albums, this is apparently the final studio record by the uncategorizable trio Sun City Girls, recorded at their last sessions before drummer Charles Gocher's 2007 death. (Multi-instrumentalists Richard and Alan Bishop did one final tour in 2008 as the Brothers Unconnected, playing material from the SCG songbook, then called it quits. ) They made a career out of being unpredictable: If you'd heard the miraculous pancultural freakout of Torch of the Mystics (everyone's favorite SCG album, unforgivably long out of print) and then picked up the sluggish comedy record Jacks Creek, or discovered them through the Fugs-ian ranty-shanties of Horse Cock Phepner and followed that with the space-drone of Bright Surroundings Dark Beginnings, you might have wondered if there were a bunch of different bands calling themselves Sun City Girls.
By at least one metric, the Sun City Girls’ final release was the best-loved cult album of 2010. Though it placed an impressive number 70 out of 1,839 on the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics’ poll, its supporters voted for few of the poll’s actual winners, situating the Girls far from the mainstream of critical opinion. Funeral Mariachi also appeared in PopMatters’ own Slipped Discs feature, and it’s easy to like, even if it contains nary a trace of mariachi music—the title tune’s trumpet sounds more like Jon Hassell’s ambient work.
The last ever album by Sun City Girls has a darkly comedic title if you don’t know the circumstances behind it. Should you already be up to speed, Funeral Mariachi is… darkly comedic, but with a caveat. It’s not unknown for bands to alter names or titles which betray a loosely flippant attitude towards death once they have to deal with its sudden consequences – perhaps you can think of some examples.
Magpies of the fourth world sign-off with their finest work. Spencer Grady 2010 So, this is it then. The final recordings from one of the most unpredictable and frustrating troupes in the history of music. A kind of quasi-mystical mini-movement that, for much of their lenghty career, no one gave two hoots about.
Wooden Wand His tunes are pretty simple, but James Jackson Toth, who performs under the name Wooden Wand, takes risks with words. He writes songs of sketchy morality draped in weird sounds — guitar solos like water drips, deep-echo vocal choruses — but centered in folk-song structures, like a ….