Sunday, September 11, 2011

Dark Americana

 I've mentioned it a couple times now: I really love the dark Americana vibe of singer-songwriters/bands like Steve Von Till, Scott Kelly, Man's Gin, Dax Riggs, and Wino's most recent solo album. And it seems to be the music that best fits my mood when I think about 9/11.

This kind of music is tough to define, and that's why I can only call it a "vibe". Sometimes it's rock, other times country, and other times folk--but maybe it could be something else, too.

At Folsom PrisonOne thing that strikes me, thinking about this music, is how all the names I could mention are metal luminaries--from Neurosis, Cobalt, Acid Bath, and Saint Vitus. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that one more musician clearly fits the category: Johnny Cash. I've been a Cash fan for a long time now, and I've always been interested by the fact he seems to be a bigger influence on rock music than on country, even though people call him country. From "Folsom Prison Blues" in the 50's up through Ain't No Grave, no one else embodied that spirit like the great Johnny Cash.

And what metal genius does Cash lead us back to? Glenn Danzig, of course. He's touched on the dark Americana vibe a few times, but never better than the acoustic version of "Come to Silver".

But I started thinking that metalheads and Cash can't be the only ones doing this kind of music. Not much on Bandcamp, but The Ragtones fit the bill:

Napatista is yet again something diffeent, playing music that sounds like Spaghetti western soundtracks. The mood is right:

And there are others out there, such as Wovenhand and Stone Breath:

There's plenty of other stuff out there that's been described as "dark Americana", but very little of it appeals to me like these do. I hope this music suits your mood as well as it suits mine on this tenth anniversary of 9/11.


  1. Great post! Some appropriately dark and somber music for such a grim day in American history. I really love that Man's Gin record and you've also mentioned some non-metal-related artists here that I'd like to check out. I myself was trying to think of an appropriate 9/11 related post, but found myself at a loss words, so I'm glad to see someone addressing it from a musical perspective.

  2. Thanks! I've just been really into this vibe lately, and all the 9/11 memorial stuff made me even more avid about it. Just today I read the article in the new Decibel about neofolk and its relation to metal, so that's given me even more to look into.

  3. Really have fallen in love with this stuff over the last year or so. Hope I hear more people doing it. Check out Across Tundras and also K. Lloyd - SoLow which is actually Kirk Fischer of Buzzov-en.

  4. In my personal opinion, Tom Waits trumps all in this category. I mean, he played Renfield in "Bram Stoker's Dracula" . . . not too mention he's a musical genius. But thanks for the recommendations. My girlfriend and I were just discussing Dax Riggs, Johnny cahs and Tom Waits last night, and now I have some new acts to check out. So, thanks again.