Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Puta Madre Brothers—
Queso Y Cojones


Released 2010 on Rookie
The Seth Man, December 2017ce
¡Dios Mio!

Puta Madre Brothers are a three-man-one-man band (really) of banditos (not really) who run rampant over a passel of stripped down, hopped up, hot’n’greasy influences all at once. Known to their madres as something else but to the rest of the world as: Anto Macaroni (vocals, guitar, drums all at once); Pikkle Henning (vocals, bass guitar, drums all at once); and Renato Vacirca (vocals, guitar, drums all at once), they combine musical sunstroke, forgotten bad rhythms and garage hangovers while remaining seated at all times (all at once.) For these three motherfucking hermanos are as brilliant as the brilliantine they slop on their greasy and respective quiffs, as rough as their scruffy faces grimy with desert polvo, and as sharp as their Spanish jackets (trimmed with lit bulbs during live performances) that they kept after going AWOL from the Federales to play music for Huertistas, Villistas, Zapatistas, and every other ista during the period of the Mexican Revolution as was never depicted in the film “La Bamba.”

But it should’ve, because (if for no other reason) the fat’s been in the fire for too long for instro Rock’ñ’roll seasoned with South of the Border novelty contrivances, which the Puta Madre Brothers have here seamlessly delivered with one massive bullseye on their debut album, “Queso Y Cojones.” Under-recorded and disheveled, it’s an effortless display seized from the more neglected aspects of rock’n’roll that not only shake off its dust but squarely kick up a squall that exceeds the boundaries of good taste, good hygiene, and bad habits. ¡Perfecto!

Recorded in four days in a kitchen on cassette tape, these fourteen songs command the imagination for thirty minutes. Thirty minutes of carving up dirt dancefloors of dim lights, thick smoke with loud, loud music into a real burrito deluxe. Too busy running ramshackle over their influences while making them all their own that not a single “Olé!” is uttered, Puta Madre Brothers’ sound is self-described by guitarist Anto Macoroni as ‘Meximotown,’ an intersection where “the desert dust rolls over the car factories of soul city Detroit, where the Mexican farmer can get down on the floor with a pin stripe dudette and cut the rug.”

Topping off this enchilada of mariachi and unconstructed rock’n’roll the like of Fortune 45s by Nathaniel Meyer and Andre Williams are the oft-overlooked delights of sixties post-surf guitar instrumentals. Most notably, those of Davie Allan & The Arrows their rawest and The Ventures at their most vigorous twist combo-est, as well as the inescapable influence of Ennio Morricone’s lead guitarist and whistler, Alessandro Alessandroni -- whose contributions were the defining hallmark of the soundtracks to director Sergio Leone’s “Man with No Name” trilogy of westerns.

There are few vocals but when there are, they’re barked out roughly over hastily strummed mariachi rhythms in only an approximation of Spanish because Meximotown is an ever-shifting musical and mental landscape where nothing is lost in translation but only gained in its many mis-translations. Their music would be the perfect soundtrack for an unreleased Azteca Films production of “Death Rides A Horse” with a third of the budget, dubbed in English, and with burned in Spanish subtitles from “A Few Dollars More.”

The same damaged perimeters hold for the sound production of this record. Is it slick? No way, José -- it would only get in the way. The distortion on the guitars are held together by the same dirt that holds their socks together, and the overall diffusion of their sound is a sonic tonic for those who hold as the elixir of life (OK: this coming Saturday night) nothing but numbers played with enough energy to be simple, crude and effective enough to park on top of life’s problems, just long enough to forget them, short enough to solve them and maybe reduce them all to roadkill. So pardon my Spanglish, but these hombres cut one caliente twist and half throughout this mess that is LOS NUGGETZ and nothing but!

Directly after a cryptic Spanish whisper and the sound of glass breaking comes the fine, fine, superfine opening stomper, “Putananny Twist.” Featuring ragged, gnarled lead guitar interplaying with razor sharp riffing behind the trio of thudding bass drums, they’re operating at minimum speed to save it for the full-blown, furious stampede of “The One Legged Horse (Race).” Again, the three bass drums are vigorously tramped upon while all three guitars strum mentally and as regimented as their Spanish jackets while the Morricone bell of death is struck over and over again.

Shifting gears, “Grandes Pelotas Del Fuego” translates to either “Big Fire Balls” or “Great Balls Of Fire” but I don’t think it’s a Jerry Lee Lewis cover. Either way, it’s a killer with mucho 3-way bass drum kicking up a stampedo as brutal guitar blares all stop and start in a Maximum Mexican R&B rave up. The vocal delivery is bawled out incoherently in drunken Spanish sing-a-long-a while kiddie xylophone accents at key moments while maraca shake appeal consistently throughout.

“El Toro Bravo” starts with a Spanish female announcement over an ancient Mexican Tannoy system and the brothers are off and running with Macaroni’s immaculate Ventures-as-rockabilly riffing that gets even more so on the solo. Several breakdowns ensue for Macaroni to regain his strength to peel off out some more Nokie-Edwards-on-45 riffing, allowing one of his bros to make with the fake cuíca backing vox leer. “Nintendo Con Queso” is a brief mariachi passage singing praises to (what else) Nintendo and cheese with muddled guitar and obscured vocals that sets up the epic instrumental, “Toes Of A Dead Man Or A Hooker On The Highway.” Penetrating the heart of solitary thoughts in the late night desert, this is the background music to an ultimate Mexican standoff as fires burn and smoke billows in the distance. The middle section guitar grows hopeful in tone like a slow dance until the coda slows down even further to a donkey’s pace until all is stillness with a final jarring tremolo bar. Both tone and emotion bear comparison to “Victorville Blues” by The Sounds of Harley, an obscure 1971 Davie Allan biker dirge off “The Hard Ride” soundtrack but in all fairness, that’s probably just me.

The brief lament, “Never A Lady Named Louigi,” sounds as if it was recorded in an abandoned cantina outside of town as the captured vocals from long deceased Zapatista prisoners waft ethereally over the proceedings. Emotional gears shift suddenly with “Soy Una Fruta” as motorcycle FX revs up while rhythm guitar and three-way vocals enter spiritedly into a mess of mariachi. The entry of musical ibnstruments has no effect whatsoever on the motorcycle sounds, which continues throughout. Even over the ending guitar solo. “Ahhhh-ya-ya-ya!”

The instrumental “Grandes Pantelones” (“Big Pants”) is a big ass mover and a groover and is kinda like The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s “2 Kindsa Love” as played by a hungover Led Zeppelin during a 1975 soundcheck riffing off Ritchie Valens’ “Ooh My Head.” The solo guitar is absolutely raw, stunning, and kick ass. I flipped my wig when I first heard it last Cinco de Mayo, cuz this couldn’t get hotter if you poured Tapatío hot sauce over it. (Because it would only ruin your stereo, that’s why.) Suddenly, in a puff of smoke appears a psychedelic breakdown of feedback and screams that echo like crazy in a ¡Taco Explosion!

Riding roughshod over the near ninety year old flamenco piece by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, “Malaguena” here is put through its paces and ran through the ringers so hard that it exposes its underlying tempo and flavour it shares with surf guitar instrumentals. Which makes sense, as surf itself was a genre with Mediterranean influences ranging as far afield from Spanish, Moorish, Arabic and Jewish idioms. But here, it’s a raging stampede to the finish. It’s so massive an assault, the title done lost its tilde!

“Long Way Down to Meximotown” is a brief piece where Mexican guitar runs cyclically above the nighttime desert sky, playing over a rotary dial phone left off its hook to kick off the high point of the album, “Dance! Dance! Dance!” THIS is the big moment of the album, and where Macaroni’s sawtoothed tone and gutbucket rhythm is only surpassed by his angular guitar soloing. It’s perfectly raw while bearing down on the beat carried by muffled bass drums and percussion accents. A total remedy for those with a stompaholic disposition, it’s a perfect song in so many ways I can’t count ‘em. (OK: all of them.) You’d think with such a remedial title, it’s a total throwaway but instead, over the stolid violin bass intro of Pikkle Henning and the trio of flatfootedly heavy kick drumming comes a twisted twist routine akin to “Taxman” being played as brutally as a struggling fratrock band in a dark basement rehearsing over a case of beers without a hope in the world they’ll even remember it during the first set.

Prefaced by a paranoid amiga whispering in Spanish, the title track “Queso Y Cojones” opens as a Mariachi soul twist that snakes between a jumble of variable tempo shifts, aided and abetted by assembled señoritas providing backing vocals. An elongated and perfect show-stopping coda, too.

The Meximotown mariachi mind-myth closes with the lonesome campfire reverie of “I Miss My Mama’s Cooking” quickly rained out as thunder, alarmed horses, and gunshots resound to frame this plaintive lament. With only lonely guitar and vocals for company, Macaroni conjures up a “St James Infirmary” vibe to end the album with a sense of total accomplishment. Best of all, their other two follow up albums, “It's A Long Long Way To Meximotown” and “Amor Y Basura” offer up a double dose of the same basura solamente with just about as high a hit rate and mucho highlights galore. Bravo, you tres Baha Queensland cabelleros!

Dedicated to the memory of Alessandro Alessandroni (1925-2017)