Whitehorse. Leave No Bridge Unburned. Six Shooter Records

Husband and wife team, Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland are quite the mythmakers. From the album art (which echoes the work of Saul Bass) featuring McClelland as a sixties leather clad spy girl and Doucet as a guitar toting gunslinger to the warped and twisted stories within the songs they create a fine melange of southern gothic, spaghetti western and James Bond glamour. Ably assisted by producer Gus Van Go (who co wrote three songs here and plays bass throughout), the pair go on a wild road trip with scorched guitars and fuzzed up keyboards backed by basic tub-thumping in the finest Moe Tucker style.

Leave No Bridge Unburned opens with the exotic rhythms of Baby What’s Wrong with its lecherous sway, lashings of twang guitar and hint of Calexico and Calexico’s desert noir is brought to mind again with mariachi horns adorning the border smuggling tale of You Get Older. Tame As The Wild Ones opens with a Morricone flourish before creeping into doomed romanticism with McClelland and Doucet coming on like Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood. The big guns however are brought out for the rousing and quite amazing Downtown which has a thumping Bo Diddley beat and features an insanely fuzzed Farfisa organ, searing guitar breaks and a brilliantly infectious chorus. Sweet Disaster is a dreamlike swoon of a sci fi fantasy with McClelland coolly singing
“Galileo was bluffing, it’s just a mess out here. There’s no compass to guide us through the flashes of violence and fear”
as the drums pound and guitars swirl and burst like fireworks. While there’s some breathing space offered by the subdued and very pretty Dear Irony which is like the Everley Brothers meets Santos and Johnny, they switch horses for the highlight of the album on the Neil Young inspired Fake Your Death (And I’ll Fake Mine). Starting with a simple acoustic guitar and close up voices the rhythm section burps into life and a growly electric guitar starts to muscle its way in. The song sways along, returning to the simple melody then bursting into guitar flourishes recalling classic Young epics such as Zuma. They wrap the album up with the zany eclecticism of The Walls Have Drunken Ears which careers around like a ball in a pinball machine lighting up Dylan circa 1966 and The Beatles around about the time of The White Album.

Overall leave No Bridge Unburned is a rousing and energetic listen and it should delight fans of the late Twilight Hotel and Blanche.

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Leaf Rapids. Lucky Stars

Veterans of the Canadian alt country scene courtesy of their joint membership in the band Nathan, husband and wife duo Devin and Keri Latimer have branched out to produce Lucky Stars, an album that covers the spectrum from breezy country influenced pop to dreamlike swoons. With Devin happy on bass to provide a solid rhythm section along with drummer Gary Craig, Keri’s gossamer voice and her occasional use of Theremin are the hooks here. She floats across the songs reminding one at times of Hope Sandoval although she’s perfectly capable of coming back to earth and sounding like a young Dolly Parton on the spritely Gravity And A Ladder Of Gold. The pair are perfectly served by their choice of producer, Steve Dawson, who has worked with Jim Byrnes, Kelly Joe Phelps, Old Man Luedecke, The Sojourners, and The Deep Dark Woods in addition to having a very healthy back catalogue of his own albums under his belt. Aside from his production duties Lawson plays all of the additional instrumentation here, acoustic and electric with some wicked guitar licks and sweet pedal steel throughout the album.

Of the 12 songs here there’s an eclectism apparent with some rootsy playing on the Dobro adorned April and the aforementioned Gravity And A Ladder Of Gold while Virtual Machine is more dreamlike, floating like a dream of flying and not dissimilar to Julee Cruise’s work for David Lynch. The twangful thrust of Agent Of The Night and the night creep of Healing Feeling point to another forebear, the much missed Detroit duo Blanche and there’s a doff of the cap the Handsome Family with a cover of Don’t Be Scared. To cap it all they close the album with a very fine cover of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World with Keri’s Theremin adding the spookiness to Dawson’s spidery guitar. Very nice.

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<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/113230095″>Leaf Rapids live studio recording of their song, &quot;Healing Feeling&quot;</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/leafrapidsmusic”>Leaf Rapids</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>