It’s my own damn preconceived prejudices, I’ll admit, but these days when I hear the term “stoner” as a prefix to a musical subgenre, visions of piss-poor dune buggy rock dance irritatingly through my head, and I just want to retch.
Thankfully, Austin’s Funeral Horse inspires none of these reactions on their sophomore effort, Psalms Of The Mourning. “Better Half Of Nothing” had me a little concerned, but the sheer Foghat-ness of the riff won me over with exuberance alone, the slinky lead break mid-way through and horns in the coda letting me know Funeral Horse isn’t just a “Hey, remember when Josh Homme was badass?” bunch of imitators. If Santana’s *Abraxas* album had turned a bit sharper down the left hand path, “No Greater Sorrow (Than My Love)” would’ve made a worthy companion to “Black Magic Woman,” albeit as interpreted through the glass-half-empty blues of fellow Texan T-Bone Walker’s standard “Stormy Monday.”
Melodious and feather-light, “1965” serves as both a subtle interlude and display of varied expression within a framework, where “Sacrifice Of A Thousand Ships” positively thunders, galloping in Bible Of The Devil/Mastodon-styled fury, What’s admirable about the Funeral Horse experience thus far is that–as diverse as POTM may be–it retains its identity, never straying so far wide as to seem contrived.
The levee breaks in “Burial Under The Sea,” the opening lyric, “California, here I come,” more a threat than a celebratory declaration and, though clearly the most typically “stoner” track on the album, it has the decency to still mix things up with a low-slung finale. Ending with the cornpone “Evel Knievel Blues,” the trio shows their sense of good-time rockin’ unabated.
If more “stoner rock” bands sounded like Funeral Horse does on Psalms Of The Mourning, I’d listen to a lot more stoner rock.