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The Curst SonsThe Curst Sons
Album: The Jumping Flea
Label: Curst Mountain
Tracks: 12

The Curst Sons are back at last! It's been a long 3 year wait since their last (and 5th) album "The Snake & The Money Jar" freaked the americana puritans out of their indolent slumbers, but rest assured disciples, it has been well worth the wait. When the Curst Sons are bad, they are good. And on "The Jumping Flea" they are very very bad!

This trio inhabit a twilight hell-hued world, where they bend the musical and lyrical rules to suit their own nefarious purposes. They gnarl and twist together elements of bluegrass, rockabilly, country and blues and spew forth a sound that is instantly recognisable as their own. What may be overlooked is the fact that the Curst Sons are damn fine songwriters as well as potent lyricists. If Quentin Tarantino had written the screenplay to "Oh Brother Where Art Thou", then The Curst Sons surely would have supplied the soundtrack.

There's no angel band playing here. These guys don't take a walk on the sunny side of the street. Their Big Rock Candy Mountain is bathed in fire and whiskey. The Curst Sons lurk furtively in the dark recesses of your mind - they're the ones on your shoulder telling you the story of "Abel Rourke", who gets sacked from his farm job for shoddy work, goes on a killing spree and ends up killing his mother and then himself. Yes, dark murder ballads are a speciality, and this one is driven along by a killer rhythm and some tasty fuzzed-out blues licks.

If that doesn't scare you, then you don't want to be Bernard in "Looking Over My Fence". He's a great big feller who's just buried a stack load of ill-gotten dollars on waste land - unbeknownst to him, he's been seen by an old man who then helps himself to said cash. "I'm liking our new neighbour, they say his name is Bernard" deadpans Sons vocalist Willi Kerr, "I always give him a great big wave when I see him digging round in his yard".

The Curst Sons have a supremely uncanny knack of writing killer hooks, and that's a fact! I'm pretty darn sure they must have beaten Robert Johnson to that crossroads! "Baseball Bat" and title track "The Jumping Flea" are perfect examples of how string players Dave Simner and Tim Dunkerley can skilfully mould a simple banjo or mandolin riff around a stomping jackhammer Kerr-induced beat.

And lyrically they go where few fear to tread, and where fewer still are successful. Dark, macabre, at times frightening, but always with a liberal sprinkling of black humour and occasionally right on point with a political aside, best demonstrated on "Here We Go Again" and "Shouting John". It's what The Curst Sons do, and it's certainly what they do better than most.

It would be churlish of me to suggest that this is the bands best album to date - the Curst Sons do what they do, album after album, honing their craft, but never losing sight of their roots - and those roots are no doubt grounded in the fires of purgatory. "The Jumping Flea" (complete with neat flea that jumps out of the cover when you open it!) is a great album, it really is as simple as that.

If it is true that the Devil has all the best tunes, then he must undoubtedly have nicked some of them from The Curst Sons.

Ken Brown