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King James, Crown Royal and a Colt 45

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Album Review

It's said that Andy Warhol became the manager and mouthpiece for the Velvet Underground after a failed attempt to form a rock band with several other artists, which should serve as a lesson to us all about visual artists who decide to start making music. But there are exceptions to every rule, and Liz McGrath, former Tongue vocalist and fanzine editor who is now best known as a painter and sculptor, has eased her way back into music in partnership with photographer turned songwriter Morgan Slade in a new project called Miss Derringer. Creepy-crawling through a set of lean blues-based tunes about lives lived either on the lam or in a trailer park, King James, Crown Royal and a Colt 45 shows that Morgan is a talented lyricist whose obsessive tales of love and crime are a fine match for McGrath's whiskey-burnished but curiously innocent voice, and the roots-conscious backing (featuring members of los Cincos, Bulima Banquet, and Skeetertruck) balances slop and enthusiasm while getting the balance just right. While this album isn't as consistent as one might hope, for a first project from principles who pursue music as a second job these days, both the songs and the execution are effective and absorbing, with McGrath and Morgan making for a potent combo on the epochal "Twelve-oh-Six" and the grim but jaunty "Open Casket Funeral." A punk-conscious crossbreed between blues and country with lyrics Jim Thompson would have admired, Miss Derringer make a hell of an entrance with this album; let's hope they have another one in 'em.


Formed: Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Performing a dark, lean blend of blues and country sounds fortified with a punk attitude, Miss Derringer is an L.A.-based rock band let by a pair of musicians-turned-artists, Liz McGrath (a painter and sculptor who previously sang with the band Tongue and edited the 'zine Censor This) and Morgan Slade (a photographer who plays guitar and writes much of the group's material). Rounding out the group are guitarist Mark Miller (formerly of Los Cincos), bassist Sylvain de Muizon, Julio Bell (ex-Bobsled...
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King James, Crown Royal and a Colt 45, Miss Derringer
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