In guitarist/singer/husband Tim Kelley's words, Puerto Muerto makes "punk-rock folk music." It's a concise and not inaccurate description, but it doesn't begin to suggest the full scope of the sonic universe he and singer/drummer/wife Christa Meyer inhabit, a world as gruesome as it is gorgeous, as sordid as it is sublime. Likewise, much has been made of the band's Weimar-Republic vibe -- the lyrics teem with ragamuffins and foundlings, seamen and soldiers, pirates and prostitutes -- but Puerto Muerto is no quaint period piece. Kelley and Meyer are as enamored of rock & roll as they are of cabaret and art song, and you can bet Ray Davies holds down a place in their canon every bit as important as Kurt Weill's.
Though such things can't be predicted with any certainty, the Chicago-by-way-of-St.-Louis duo might be on the verge of earning the audience they deserve. They've already made fans of alt-country icon Jon Langford and Village Voice sage Robert Christgau; what's more, they just scored a distro deal with prestigious UK label Fire Records, which is reissuing their debut CD, Your Bloated Corpse Has Washed Ashore, along with Elena (an elegant song cycle about incest, molestation and infanticide) and the primitive-rock apocalypse See You In Hell. Of course, such cred-burnishing details don't always translate to popular success, but we'll be very surprised if Puerto Muerto doesn't make a nice big splash in Europe, where, as luck would have it, the couple will be touring this summer.