Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Dark Americana Briefs, Part 6

Still in a Dark Place

Josh T. Pearson: Last of the Country Gentlemen (2011)
1 out of 5 stars

Josh T. Pearson is a critical darling, and his only solo LP Last of the Country Gentlemen was featured on several prominent end-of-year lists in 2011. I can enjoy a song or two of this subtle, acoustic guitar folk, but the album as a whole is interminably long. Other than a couple violin parts and the album's only crescendo, there are no dynamics to speak of. If you think it's tough to listen to a half-hour black metal record with constant blastbeats, try hearing an hour-long, slow, acoustic folk album with no percussion. Actually, don't. As much as I like to proselytize my fellow metalheads into dark folk music, this is not the right record for our demographic, with or without Pearson's epic beard.

But there are others.

Madrugada: Industrial Silence (1999)
4 out of 5 stars

I've talked about the Norwegian band Madrugada before, and Industrial Silence is more of the same kind of mellow blues-rock with Western touches, a vocal style somewhat reminiscent of Dave Wyndorf (Monster Magnet), and hints of Tom Waits. This is a succinct description, but it's all you really need to know. This is compelling stuff, especially "Beautyproof" and "Salt."

16 Horsepower: Hoarse (2001)
4 out of 5 stars

By now, you're probably sick of me talking about 16 Horsepower. I consider them the only non-metal band in my all-time top 5 bands, so I've been gushing for a while. And honestly I hadn't planned to review their live album when I first picked up Hoarse, but the record changed my mind about that. Firstly, the live performance makes their intensity all the more apparent; they would put nearly any metal band to shame in that department. Second, the bass and guitar tones are much more prominent than in their studio work, so it's actually heavy in places. And finally, the set list is fantastic, featuring the incredible "Black Soul Choir" and other favorites of course, but also an extremely original interpretation of "Bad Moon Rising."

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