Sunday, October 13, 2013

Dark Americana Briefs, Part 9

Three More

Big John Bates: Battered Bones (2012)
3 out of 5 stars

Frontman Records contacted me after noticing my interest in dark Americana, and I thank them for it because this Big John Bates record was an interesting listen. In the end, though, Battered Bones isn't really what I'm looking for. It's described as "rustic punk," but I'm pretty sure it's some permutation of rockabilly. It's upbeat, punky rock with sounds pulled from dark Americana, but it's not really Americana, and definitely not dark. It's fun.

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Dig!!! Lazarus Dig!!! (2008)
4 out of 5 stars

Nick Cave has released records that more obviously fit what I consider "dark Americana," and it's pretty tough to squeeze a fun song like "Lie Down Here & Be My Girl" into that category. But the just-under-the-surface madness of Cave coupled with gospel, blues, country, and rock fits the spirit no matter how perky the bassline to "Today's Lesson" might sound. And "Moonland" is just cool, man, just cool. Dig?

Tom Waits: Rain Dogs (1985)
4.5 out of 5 stars

Rain Dogs is another that's slightly outside what I usually cover in this series, but seeing as it includes gospel, blues, country, Cajun music, and all other manner of Americana, and it's dark as hell, it fits. The marimba-driven tracks may be the most interesting here, and it's hard to believe that Waits doesn't leave the studio at night to stand around a trash-barrel fire with a gathering of other schizophrenic hobos. How is he real, and, also, not institutionalized?


  1. You know, it's weird. I always forget that Tom Waits is primarily known as a singer-songwriter. He's fixed in my mind as an actor, and every now and then somebody reminds me that he's recorded a bunch of really cool music.

  2. Have a listen to the new Hank III.

    I know you are justifiably sketchy on his recent output and I had pretty much given up on the bloke but I'm liking what I'm hearing so far!