Somewhere there'll always be a realm where Dick Dale, Ennio Morricone, and good Mexican food all come together. Or so it seems, based on the evidence of this smart, funny, and rockin' album. Whoever Death Valley might in truth be (identities for the instrumental quartet are given as Pepper, Blue, Mear, and Joe), the Texas band's knowledge of what makes a song smoke is unquestioned. With production mostly done by Big Boys legend Tim Kerr, one wants to suspect that more famous names are having fun here, but in truth, who knows? The song titles are part of the overall fun -- thus, "A Fistful of Pasta," "Lammie Don't Surf," and the wonderfully ridiculous "The Larry Storch Song Trilogy" -- but the group clearly knows it's not just about laughs but entertainment. If spaghetti western surf music is the be-all and end-all of Death Valley's existence, it does such a good job with it that any complaints about lack of variety would be pointless. Not that the foursome can't sneak some other moods in here and there, like the smooth, sweet flow of "Suzy Sunshine" (and why not, given a song title like that?). Morricone himself gets covered not once but twice -- "For a Few Dollars More" gets a great, straightforward dramatic reading, Blue's drumming especially noteworthy, while "Guns Don't Argue" receives a similar, slightly more stripped-down treatment. Mear and Joe hit the tremolo more times than can be counted, Pepper and Blue keep the grooves and pace going, and the air is full with the scent of saltwater tang as much as dry desert heat. Need something more than that? Then you'll have to look elsewhere -- in the meantime, check your gun and pass the nachos.
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