Burn Witch Burn – S/T

Burn Witch Burn features Rodney Linderman, better known as Rodney Anonymous, of The Dead Milkmen singing and playing assorted instruments, and the release makes sure you know that. But, friends, this is not The Dead Milkmen or anything even closely resembling it. In fact, as the name of the band makes clear, this is a very specific kind of music, one that tends to lean toward the quirky and melodramatic, one that is comfortable singing about the devil and more.
Burn Witch Burn’s music falls somewhere between pop music, traditional Irish and medieval music, and a bit of a punk-rock ethic. Rodney and Vienna Linderman share vocals, and the music leans toward the acoustic side, incorporating acoustic guitars, mandolin, banjolin, melodeon, violins, and other assorted instruments.
There’s something slightly frightening here, slightly off-kilter. Perhaps it’s the way that the band brings in Celtic and Irish style bands like Black 47 and The Chieftains into a more modern pop sound. Perhaps it’s because you get a sense of morbid or dreary mood beneath several of these tracks. Perhaps it’s just the ol’ Dead Milkmen craziness going on here. Regardless, it works. These songs are fun, provoking, weird, and catchy. And just a bit perverse.
After a spooky introduction, “Beaumont Arkansas” comes in with a very spooky little romp that features mandolin, acoustic guitar, and lyrics about the devil. How cool is that? And it goes right into “Kavorkian,” which has the more up-beat pace and rhythm of a Irish-style rock song. Oh, Rodney, there you are! He’s back on “Treetop Flotilla,” a quirky, off-kilter track that lets you see The Dead Milkmen’s years of influence a bit, especially as he rants almost stream-of-consciousness style. The styles blend the best on the romp of “Night of 100 Popes,” a lovely Celtic-style romp with Rodney’s hard-to-take-seriously vocals. That contrasts with “How Beth Found Fame,” a more dreary, even slightly Throwing Muses style that has Vienna on vocals singing to this lovely music about the Black Dahlia murder. “Flowers of Sulfur” is about as traditional as the band gets, bringing to mind Flogging Molly. There’s a very lovely old-English style piece called “Ruffy Tuffy / At Work in the Factories of the Lord” that evokes images of billowy gown-clad maidens and frumpy men dancing in a large hall in the 1700s. “New Tsar & Catapault / Drowsy Maggie” is another romp of a track, with Rodney singing and some very bouncy guitar and mandolin, all with a slightly dreary backing wash of sound. But “The Farragut Light” takes on a more traditional rock feel with a steady beat and guitar-focus, and the switching between Rodney’s and Vienna’s vocals is a nice touch. “The Mayor’s Story” is the last song, and it’s very pretty and moody and dark, with lovely mandolin and very intense, dark vocals (the chorus in another language).
Burn Witch Burn’s album is the perfect album for your Halloween party. It’s just scary and moody enough to fit, and it’s got a great pace to keep the ghosts dancing. This is weird stuff, no doubt about it. It’s unique, blending in a few hundred years of musical influences, and somehow it all works. Check this out, it’s bound to amaze and perhaps horrify just a bit.