More than a year ago, in his rundown on “top substances that have influenced music,” promoter-DJ Marco De La Vega said this: “I...raid my own medicine cabinet, take a couple Vicodin, and listen to a stack of records including [Girls],Tamaryn, King Dude, Chelsea Wolfe, and Zola Jesus.”
Already a fan of the others mentioned in that paragraph, I sought out King Dude (a.k.a T.J. Cowgill) and found that I'd already known his previous work, intimately. I'd seen his black metal band Teen Cthulhu in high school, and for many years had the band's sticker plastered on my black Nissan Maxima, later discovering his band that rose from the ashes of Teen Cthulhu: Book of Black Earth.
It was his turns as founder-creative director of his own clothing label, Actual Pain (Kanye has worn it, OK?), and solo “darkly spiritual acoustic-folk” singer-songwriter that have been the most surprising. Like previous King Dude releases, 2012's Burning Daylight (Dais) is a desolate affair, with subtle plucking and Cowgill's darkly raspy vocals meditating on death, murder, spirituality, and love – or as I wrote in this week's Tofu and Whiskey print music column (Jan. 9 issue), it sounds like “a gravelly demon inside, clawing to get out.” Read more »
Call it the influence of witch house on the folk scene, or don't – those involved would probably hate that. But it does feel like there have been more and more “darkly spiritual acoustic-folk” acts of late, in the vein of Chelsea Wolfe and Father John Misty (albeit, on opposite ends of the spectrum), and in particular, King Dude, who returns to the Bay for a set of Oakland shows this weekend. There'll also be live sets this week by Lavender Diamond, less moody but certainly as spiritual and folk-infused, and the legendary, if snappier Mountain Goats.
Unrelated, but also performing in the Bay these next few days: Roy Loney and the Phantom Movers, Overwhelming Colorfast, and the Chuckleberries; Dee Dee from the Dum Dum Girls with her boo, Brandon from the Crocodiles; Wooden Shjips, Liturgy, and Barn Owl, at the same show. Plus, it's Chanukah, and the Subterranean Arthouse is celebrating with Yiddish bands and live klezmer. I hope for your sake you get some latkes this holiday season, my first batch was oily, crispy, and vegan – perfect. Read more »