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Sun City Girls: The Beautiful And Bizarre

The long-running Arizona rock band Sun City Girls says   goodbye in "Funeral Mariachi," which sounds both familiar and   unexpected.
Courtesy of the artist
The long-running Arizona rock band Sun City Girls says goodbye in "Funeral Mariachi," which sounds both familiar and unexpected.

Sun City Girls' members are all about desert-infused weirdness. The band takes its name from a planned retirement community in Phoenix, not that any of its members have ever lived there — or are female, for that matter. Yet somehow, the name is appropriate: The group is known for its unconventional mix of seemingly incongruous genres, including punk and various non-Western styles, with lots of improvisation.

"Funeral Mariachi" channels a dark sound — but, though reverent at times, it (like the band) never takes itself too seriously. The overall effect is ominous, highlighted especially by the limited use of lyric-less vocals, but the heavy guitar and generously applied reverb make the music resemble the soundtrack to an old Western.

Perhaps fittingly, "Funeral Mariachi" serves as the final track of Sun City Girls' final album. The band's drummer of almost 30 years, Charles Gocher, died in 2007, making this posthumous release the last of 46 records and a few good handfuls of cassettes. Even at its end, though, the band does what few can do: It sounds familiar and unexpected at the same time. Even at their most straightforward, Sun City Girls' members always seem to radiate the beautiful and bizarre.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Sarah Ventre
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