Hilarious Death Blues
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Michael Bradley (aka Antic Clay) started the southern-gothic band MYSSOURI in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996. Drawing influences from Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, The Doors, 16 Horsepower and Joy Division, the band burned a dark and bright scar on the Georgia scene, playing myriad shows, festivals and conferences, including CMJ twice, and opening for well-known acts such as The Damned, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Concrete Blonde, Reverend Horton Heat, Detroit Cobras, The Angels Of Light, The Gunga Din, Waco Brothers and more. But they never were able to tour, and perhaps because of that the fire burned out after 7 years and 3 records. Myssouri disbanded in 2003. Bradley has continued on, playing stripped-down shows with his acoustic guitar and harmonica, and the artistic direction hinted at when he had Myssouri covering songs by the likes of Townes Van Zandt and Lee Hazlewood (and of course Johnny Cash) has become his clear and chosen path. He adopted the name Antic Clay and traveled to a friend's studio in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. From these sessions comes the audacious double-cd debut "Hilarious Death Blues", a title inspired, like the pseudonym Antic Clay, by the dark westerns of reknowned American novelist Cormac McCarthy. Bradley/Clay sang, wrote and played most everything on the album, which has a feeling about it both archaic and modern, heavy on the reverb and sparse on the instrumentation like old Sun Studios recordings, very much inspired by late night lost highway AM radio, vintage country songs and the mythology of the Old West, although the lyrical content is far too dark and cynical to make it on the Grand Ole Opry. HDB puts you in an old dark wooden room with only a burlap curtain against the night wind, and a guttering tallow candle's incandescent dance across your old bottle of bourbon. It is best listened to loud. And alone. There are bluesy dirges, somber western ballads, dissonant foot-stompers, tavern songs and even an unlikely sea shanty. The lone cover, "Decades" by Joy Division, is barely recognizable as the 'post-punk' classic. It is stripped to the root with guitar, harmonica, voice and violin, and made all the more powerful for it. HILARIOUS DEATH BLUES is 3+ years in the making, and is more of a document of a period of time in a writer's life than a statement of intent. Indeed, Bradley's new side-project of vintage country covers "SINNERS AND SONGRIDERS" may reveal much about the future path for Antic Clay, strongly hinted at in the lonesome country swagger of the song "Non-Prophet Blues" (from album B, "The Horseless Rider). Dark night in Nashville, here we come.
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