Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra and Tra-la-la Band - 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons

Album cover

  1. Untitled (0:05)
  2. Untitled (2) (0:04)
  3. Untitled (3) (0:04)
  4. Untitled (4) (0:05)
  5. Untitled (5) (0:06)
  6. Untitled (6) (0:05)
  7. Untitled (7) (0:06)
  8. Untitled (8) (0:06)
  9. Untitled (9) (0:06)
  10. Untitled (10) (0:07)
  11. Untitled (11) (0:06)
  12. Untitled (12) (0:11)
  13. 1,000,000 Died To Make This Sound (14:42)
  14. 13 Blues For Thirteen Moons (16:46)
  15. Black Waters Blowed - Engine Broke (13:07)
  16. BlindBlindBlind (13:17)

Constellation, 2008

After having played these songs live for the previous two years, and sanctioned bootlegs of the concerts, the eventual album was released with little fanfare. But "13 Blues for Thirteen Moons" was an anticlimax mainly because it was their weakest album to date. Each of its four extended tracks (excepting the twelve untitled blips of feedback) has at least one really good idea, but frustratingly they do little with these ideas except making a loud noise. "1,000,000 Died To Make This Sound"'s title refrain sounds great sung in their distinctive full-band harmony, but they don't do much more than puff it up into a heavy-footed one-chord rocker. At least the swirling rock violins and a couple of engaging changes of pace make this the stand-out piece. The title track begins with a few minutes of stodgy, blaring rage, only gaining interest about half way through with an odd-metered refrain. The subsequent crescendo over this refrain to accompany Efrim Menuck's twisted declamations seems more obligatory than exciting (at least on this album, live versions I've heard have had much more energy). Even more blustering is the noisy freakout at the start of "Black Waters Blowed - Engine Broke". Though this track's final refrain "building train wrecks / in the setting sun" is a welcome piece of howling SMZ despondency. "Blindblindblind" is more satisfying, building up a decent momentum and finishing in surreal harmony vocal land.

It's as if they've invented themselves as punk rockers and become too comfortable with that label - music seems to have taken a back seat to aimless raging. Their previous albums at least realised their gloomy social commentary with substantial songwriting and composing - this is just gloomy.

July 29, 2008

5 out of 10

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