There is an almost eerie, strange quality to the music of Ex-Cowboy that renders their music utterly irresistible to the ear. A combination of seemingly desert-chiselled vocals and a gentle array of Americana instruments come together in their self-titled debut album to make it a memorable one.
The band is headed by the vocal talents of Michael Huerta and Mariah McCammond and backed up by the rich sound of accordions, violins and double bass create a haunting medley of tracks that hover somewhere on the outskirts between folk and country music. Huerta and McCammond mix their unique and dusty voices together in such as way so as to amplify the sound of the desert itself. Soft and sandy, but with a slight grizzled edge, their vocals summon a vivid mental image of a torn and deserted desert highway, stretching off into the midday sun. Originally hailing from Tuscon, Arizona their sound is wholly fitting to their image as the sound they embody seeps out into a stage persona before you’ve even had the chance to see them live.
Their voices are of course complimented by the calm and atmospheric accompanying music. The music itself is almost hard to spot at times, so tightly does it coil itself into the background of your mind. Almost tentative at times, as if encouraging the vocal range of their leads the music has a gentle, hypnotic sway to it that renders it completely compelling whilst at times allowing it to falter into the barren music played in some long-forgotten bar. It’s an almost traditional sound for such a country-blues band and it suits them well although it rarely allows through any shining moment of happiness. Despite its rather downbeat air; with songs such as All Boats are Coffins and Dead Parade, they manage to refrain from becoming morose or maudlin and instead created a refreshing blend of melancholic, desert sounds which at rare times can be almost reminiscent of DeVotchKa.
Ex-Cowboy haven’t brought us the cheeriest blend of music, but what their first feature album lacks in cheer it makes up for elsewhere in abundance. Their music is intriguing, beguiling and in most places hauntingly mesmeric. Whilst difficult to classify as a genre, it’s an interesting blend that’s incredibly easy to listen to as their distinctive vocals and wandering melodies will whistle around in your head for days.
For more information about Ex-Cowboy, check their Facebook page here:
Review by Joe Knipe