The final studio album from Sun City Girls. For those not familiar with the band, the Girls formed by brothers Alan and Richard Bishop in 1979 in Phoenix, Arizona, who formally disbanded in 2007 after the untimely death of drummer Charles Gocher. During their nearly three decades together they released a dizzying array of some of the most unique and challenging experimental music to come out of America. Combining influences ranging from surf rock, punk, movie soundtracks, freejaz, traditional Middle Eastern and African music, spoken word, and free improv (as well as having borderline performance art live shows) the group may seem absolutely impenetrable from the outset, especially if you don't know where to start.
Well, "Funeral Mariachi" is a pretty good place to begin. While most SCG albums are seemingly entirely idiosyncratic and chock-full of unpredictable weirdness, this album has probably the most coherent number of actual "songs" in their catalogue, while still remaining unmistakably Sun City Girls. This is very obvious from the first few moments of the opening track "Ben's Radio" which eventually gives way to a spaghetti western vibe which is densely prominent throughout the majority of the album. There is heavy Ennio Morricone influence here, especially in the second half of the album (including a cover of Morricone's "Come Maddelena"). The standout track for me is "The Imam" combining Middle Eastern instrumentation and chanting with SCG flair (I swear I hear a rubber ducky as part of the percussion). While tracks like "Black Orchid" and "Blue West" are straight out of 60s Italian Westerns.
"Funeral Mariachi" is a wonderful final record to one of the most mysterious, engaging, and challenging bands of the 20th century.