Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dark Americana Briefs, Volume 15

Darker Than Metal

More dark Americana. I hope you enjoy.

Jeff Zentner: The Dying Days of Summer (2009)
3.5 out of 5 stars

Pure country music doesn't often pique my interest, but then again, Jeff Zentner doesn't play a typical country style. The Dying Days of Summer is soft, quiet, and gentle. Despite its lack of violence it's still extremely dark and deeply sad. And not in a stereotypical "My wife left me and my dog's dead" way. It's mostly acoustic guitar and male vocals, but other sounds do assist on the dynamic front (female vocals, mandolin, etc.). Unfortunately, the complete lack of percussion and the extensive length of the record (64 minutes) make it a lot more challenging than it needs to be, and I'm not quite sure the payoff is enough.

Chelsea Wolfe: The Grime and the Glow (2010)
4 out of 5 stars

I don't know how to categorize Chelsea Wolfe except in the category of "good." I thought about trying to explain it in a technical sense, but I have a better idea. It's like being in a dream, with some ill-defined threat looming over everything you do; you try to read a page from a book that will help you deal with that threat, but you just can't sort out the words on the page.

Swans: My Father Will Guide Me up a Rope to the Sky (2010)
4 out of 5 stars

Just scratching the surface of the Swans discography for the first time, to really discuss it would be a bit out of my depth. But the first reunion record is a powerful blend of post-rock, Americana (check the mandolin and steel guitar), and all kinds of folk and whatever else. It's strange, atmospheric, trance-inducing, soothing and unsettling all at once.


  1. I saw a film a couple of years ago, "Bellflower", and the soundtrack was written by a guy by the name of Jonathan Keevil. It's in the dark Americana vein, similar to Zentner's stuff. It's hit or miss, being a soundtrack, but has some pretty emotional tracks on it.

    Also, probably my favorite dark Americana album of all-time is Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford". I listen to that album, even now, even without its use of vocals.

    If you can't find either, let me know.

    1. I haven't heard the Keevil one. The "Assassination" one is OK, but it ultimately became background music for me. I didn't even want to bother writing a brief review of it.

    2. Previewing Keevil on Youtube right now, and I think I'm going to have to hear much more.

    3. Did you listen anymore? I also remember really like Balmorhea's album "constellations".