With their thick, gooey, swamp stomp sound, I would have guessed this guitar ‘n’ drum twosome was from some uncharted region of the Louisiana bayou. Turns out Henry’s Funeral Shoe are from Wales, which is about as far away from gumbo and gators as you can get. Kudos to the Clifford brothers—Aled (vocals, guitar) and Brennig (backing vocals, drums)—for achieving such an authentic racket. I guess this disproves my theory about the correlation between intense swamp gasses and dense Delta blues-type rock music.
Is it possible to review an earthy, bass-free garage band without referencing that famous boy/girl combo that was all the rage a few years ago? Of course, I speak of Nutrajet, the glam-rock duo that seemed to pop up at every musical event in the state of Florida around the turn of the millennium. They really seemed like they were about to break; then Suzy quit and whatever momentum they had totally stalled. Well, it’s irrelevant, anyway—Henry’s Funeral Shoe mops the muddy floor with Nutrajet and nearly every other raw, rudimentary twosome that comes to mind. The sound on Everything’s for Sale could be a little more gritty or in-your-face, but hey, not everybody has John Anthony Gillis at their disposal (you know, the guy who produced all those Gap ads featuring that fake band, “the Whitey Strips”).
Regardless of any production woes, you can still feel Aled’s craggy face contorting as he strains to deliver such lines as “Gonna inject my love into your bones!” and “Don’t let your heart get heavy.” Underneath all that, the guitar growls and jerks about like a crazed mutt tearing apart its first fresh ham hock, lest we forget the drums, which simmer delightfully and add a boisterous flavor to numerous tracks on Everything’s for Sale. If you’ll allow me to continue with the food metaphors, this record is a middle-o’-summer fat back barbeque freak-out that’ll leave you pickin’ your teeth and reaching for the nearest frosty beverage. The following statement may strike you as dubious, but I stand by it: Henry’s Funeral Shoe is quite possibly the best airboat cruisin’ music since Mountain’s “Mississippi Queen.”
Praise must also be doled out for the subtle Star Wars reference on the cover of Everything’s for Sale. I feel like it would be slightly easier to comprehend what I’m talking about with a vinyl copy of this album, but it’s not beyond imagination on the CD version. Of course, if you opt to get your HFS fix via iTunes or good ol’ fashioned torrent theft, then you will not experience the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with staring at an intergalactic shoe while the gentle closing track “Mary’s Tune” nestles its way into your nerdy heart. “Mary’s” is extra sweet because it shows up just when you think you can’t handle anymore sweat-fueled slide guitar or shack-shakin’ sex rhythms. It’s a nice way to decompress after a sludgy trek through the UK’s muggiest sonic landscape.
Really, the only thing missing from Henry’s Funeral Shoe is a heapin’ helpin’ of banjo, but that can be excused. The banjo is a tricky instrument to correctly insert into any kind of rock. Really, only one band ever did it right (read: Without being shitty, obnoxious, or an obvious novelty)—Creedence Clearwater Revival. I’m sorry, but the banjo in rock begins and ends with John Fogerty. Well, and Led Zeppelin. You can’t argue with “Gallows Pole.” Oh, and Primus. They had a couple of nice numbers with banjo. Oh man, I almost forgot about Flogging Molly. They really aren’t as bad as I used to think they were. Jeez, I guess my banjophobia isn’t all that raging. I’m going to have to rethink this entire vicious and apparently baseless attack. At any rate, Everything’s for Sale except hot banjo licks. Keep that in mind if you seek this record. - James Greene, Jr / Crawdaddy!