"Headed Nowhere Tour 2017 is headed here"

TPB European tour 2017Those Poor Bastards, a.k.a. the "Prophets of the Country Doom", are coming to Europe. To my knowledge, this is their first tour in Europe. This is the biggest thing since powdered milk and could only be matched by a tour with Sons of Perdition. For those unfamiliar with Those Poor Bastards let me quote them: "I'm warning you friends, this is not the sanitized, safe, and clean as the neighborhood ball country bullshit you're used to. No, this is country music as it was meant to be, raw and bleeding." They will tour in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Russia from April 20th to May 6th (see preliminary dates and venues on the right). Touring in Russia isn't standard procedure for a band from Wisconsin (or any band). However, the Russians are very committed to "death country", especially the "evil doom" branch. The gloomier the music, the happier they will be. Maybe, the dark streak in the music of TPB fits their very troubled mindset all too well.         

Those Poor Bastards will be passing through Sweden. In Sweden lives very few, but dedicated, music lovers with a strange appetite for miserable and primitive old-time gothic country music. Those Poor Bastards are booked for three concerts in Sweden: Stockholm, Göteborg and Eksjö(!). The choice of Eksjö surprised me, since it's an old town from the 14th century and former centre of military establishments with less than 10 000 inhabitants. But maybe Eksjö is a gothic hub that I have overlooked despite my thorough and intense studies. Everything is possible. Those Poor Bastards are going to play at Debaser Strand in Stockholm, which is a perfect venue for this kind of music. However, at the moment there's no information on Debaser's website and the concert isn't confirmed. The same goes for the other two concerts. Let's hope for the best and plan for the worst. I'm curious about who will attend the concert since there are no reference studies for Sweden. I will devote myself to participant observation. I will attend incognito as the Ambassador. What I do know is that it's going to be a blast. Their latest album “Sing It Ugly” takes distortion to a new level. It will be great to see and hear them live. It may very well turn out to be a once in a lifetime event. I don't want to miss this for the world. If I have the time I will write a review. Someone has to take on the important mission and document for posterity. Someday it will all be over.    



"What to expect and wish for in 2017"

2017chronicleNow is the time to speak about the state of the (gothic) nation. As the self-appointed Ambassador of the Swedish Embassy of Gothic Country I have the privilege to write impertinent notes. I believe in one-way communication. That's why there are no commentary fields on the site. Today's society is smothered by constant weighing and measuring. The written word is dying or at least in sharp decline. Someone has to make a stand and write a text which at least contains one main and subordinate clause. When you live in a remote country like Sweden there's a huge geographical distance to the gothic country scene (actually, it's very questionable if a scene exists) and perhaps a monocular overview of the genre. Distance isn't necessarily always a disadvantage. This is my third country note (since the site was launched in March 2014). In this note I look back on 2016 and make wishes for 2017. Historically, my track record for wishes coming true isn’t impressive. On the contrary, it’s very depressive. But, hope is the last thing to leave a human being. Given the very brutal, not to say, hostile environment for this kind of music you have to choose between being an optimistic fool or a negative bastard. Personally, I tend to move freely between these positions depending on my mood or the situation.

The gothic country genre is endangered and at risk of extinction. The regrowth is close to zero. The field lies open for tiresome epigones and they are really on the move. A good friend of mine tried to tell me that there's a time and context for everything. I suspect that the best years have come and gone for the genre. Despite these disheartening facts there’s a drizzle of new album releases. However, the general quality of the music has deteriorated. New albums are often disappointments with few exceptions. The biggest disappointment this year was “Star Treatment” by Wovenhand. It didn’t come as a big surprise. For every album (last three) their sound has become harder (and less interesting). Their enigmatic soundscape is long gone. This album is on the verge of unlistenable. The Handsome Family, superstars by gothic country measures, released their tenth album, “Unseen”. It was critically acclaimed. I feel a bit lukewarm about this album. It isn’t bad in any way, but definitely not their finest hour. The same goes for “The Commandments According To Slim Cessna's Auto Club” by Slim Cessna's Auto Club and - with the catchy title - “Eating Meatballs On A Blood-Stained Mattress In A Huggy Bear Motel” by The Dad Horse Experience. But all are not disappointments or lukewarm experiences. On the positive side, there's a couple of albums like "Redemption & Ruin" with covers by The Devil Makes Three. Their version “The Angel of Death” nails me to the wall. “Sing It Ugly” by Those Poor Bastards (takes distortion to a new level), “Thicket” by OldBoy (high delivery dependability) and “Gathered Blood” by Sons of Perdition (will not be accused of repeating themselves) are all three very good albums. Last, but not least, “Shy Ghosts” by T.K. Bollinger really knocked me off my feet.

I had three wishes for 2016. None of them came true. The first wish was a new gothic country album by Christian Williams. The second wish was a sophomore release from The Victor Mourning. This particular wish has become somewhat of a tradition. The third wish was to acquire at least one of the hard-to-find four missing albums (read more here) and to get all albums from the defunct label Devil's Ruin Records. I'm not an unreasonable or greedy man. I only wish for the same three things in 2017. What about next year? Plans are just plans in the genre. Palodine had plans to release a new album in 2016, but didn't for some reason. Speak of the devil and he shall appear. Palodine just announced that their new album "Melancholy Trucker of Death" will be released on Bandcamp next week. Maybe Slackeye Slim will come forward and release a new album. That would be great. Reverend Glasseye has returned after several years of obscurity. His new band Gun Mother will release the debut album "These Golden Threads" at a time undetermined. The adjective “undetermined” sounds ominous and definitely has a more vague meaning in this context. Let’s hope for the best, prepare for the worst and plan to be surprised. I'm cautiously negative about 2017. You have to build resilience in the face of adversity. To quote Leonard Cohen who passed away in November: “I’m ready my Lord”.



Reverend Glasseye lives on

Gun MotherReverend Glasseye sadly decided to end his legendary musical project after several setbacks. In a blog entry in August 2013 he wrote: "...In fact, I would say that most of the hurdles that Reverend Glasseye faced in its lifetime were caused by me. Back in the mid-oughts, when the band was doing extraordinarily well, it was my own abundant and needlessly existential neurosis that caused the band to stall out completely. As more people began to like the music we were making, I became more and more dissatisfied with it, and at that point I had a very hard time listening to the advice of others." Reverend Glasseye is one of the most talented songwriters in the gothic country genre. In fact, Reverend Glasseye was too talented for his own good. Reverend Glasseye has nowadays moved on to a new musical project, Gun Mother, read more here (opens in a new window). If you click on the picture to the right you will be able to listen to "Hispid Hare" from what will be their debut album "These Golden Threads". The album is to be released at a time undetermined. Reverend Glasseye recently wrote on his Facebook page "I am incredibly proud of this record and I hope you enjoy this song...This song, in particular, is one of my personal favorites. It took an agonizingly long time to complete and to comprehend. I wrote it in a dark place towards the end of Reverend Glasseye and it has the distinct of being one of the only songs to make it through all of my projects." I was flabbergasted when I listened to the song and I can't stop listen to it. I can't wait for the Gun Mother album. Reverend Glasseye is disbanded, but Reverend Glasseye lives on.



"Oh, East is East and West is West"

oldcompassGothic country and its subgenres thrives in all time and climate zones. When all is said and done, this is true. However, the longer I've been working with this project in a futile attempt to bring some order in this unmanageable mess, the more I've become convinced of that there are distinct regional differences. Let's make some demarcations. My study is limited to Northeast, Midwest, South and West (the categories in the Article department and the US). I will now explain my bold theory, which is quite similar to meteorological climate theory. Northeast is closest to Europe. Many bands are influenced by music from the Balkan Peninsula and even romani music. Another influence is dark cabaret and vaudevillian tradition. Of course, it's still dark americana. Reverend Glasseye is maybe the best example. Fire on Fire and Brown Bird are two other examples. Midwest is very complex. It's based on neo-traditional country, gothic twang and dark variations on ozark bluegrass sound. The best example is Strawfoot. There seems to have been a strange mutation in Wisconsin. Many talented musicians hail from Wisconsin, .357 String Band, Highlonesome and Those Poor Bastards among others. South is the home of Southern Gothic. The genre shares thematic connections with the Southern Gothic genre of literature. It's dark and gritty, like a pitch-black Cormac McCarthy novel. Songs often examine poverty, criminal behavior, religious imagery, death, ghosts, family, lost love, alcohol, murder, the devil and betrayal. But, not necessarily in that order. Sons of Perdition, Myssouri and Antic Clay are good examples. West is decadent. The epitome is extremely superficial people preoccupied with their appearance or roller skating at Venice Beach. Or both at the same time. However, western sound differ from this stereotype. It's hippie-like, junk-band, hurdy-gurdy and lot of accordion. I thought my theory was rock solid until I came to Denver, read more here (opens in a new window). The Denver sound doesn't fit within the theory. Well, further research is required.



"Night on Earth"

Bowie experienceDavid Bowie died from liver cancer earlier this year only two days after the release of his critically acclaimed album "Blackstar". However, it took only two seconds before the music industry vultures smelled a business opportunity. They laughed and chuckled: How can we earn easy money with minimum effort? Well, let's see...what do we got in our cupboard? Hmm, why not use the mediocre british copier with the noble name of Laurence Knight. Let him be the useful idiot. On a very good day and with a benevolent interpretation he sounds and looks just like Bowie. The last couple of years Laurence Knight has capitalized on the music of David Bowie through the "Bowie Experience". The vultures seems to have reasoned as follows: Let's exploit the original "Bowie Experience" cover tour. Allegedly, this is "an absolute must-see for all new and old devoted Bowie fans". Naturally, the music industry vultures have strong incentives to exaggerate Laurence Knight's importance and claim to fame in the world. He has "toured in England and abroad". The "famous" Laurence Knight is coming to Sweden in November with "musicians" and a "choir". Allegedly, they are "world class". World class musicians and choir touring in small Swedish county towns in November? Well, it has to be a first time for everything. Read more about the spectacle here (opens in a new window. However, this event wouldn't be possible without ignorant people. In my opinion, people who are planning to attend this spectacle should undergo a minor psychiatric evaluation. I don't know which is worst: the supply or the demand. Probably both. There must be a level in Dante's Inferno for vultures, Laurence Knight and ignorant audience. God forgives...I dont.



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