Tag Archives: Handsome Family

Doomsday – at least it’s fun to sing about

doomsdayHere we go again. A bunch of people are freaking out over another doomsday. I guess I shouldn’t make too much fun. Way back in the ’80s when I was a Baptist I got hyped up because some radio preacher or other had me convinced the end was nigh.

I remember how let down I was when I didn’t get raptured at the stroke of midnight at the church New Year’s Eve party. Luckily I never actually told anyone what I was thinking, so my embarrassment was minimal.

Since then I’ve lost count of the “doomsdays” that have come and gone. The Y2K scare was a big one, but there have been others. Since there are plenty of real and serious problems in the world, and since nothing lasts forever, I imagine the day will come – though I have a feeling we’ll go out with more of a whimper than a bang – but in the meantime I’ve got too much short term trouble to deal with to freak out over what New Agers or Mayans or TV preachers say.

One thing about it though… The idea of doomsday is a hell of an inspiration for musicians. Some of my favorite songs are end of the world songs. I don’t know if we’re supposed to disappear at midnight or if whatever it is takes place sometime during the day, but if you’re still here and our technology still works, check out some of these songs:

Daniel Knox – Armageddonsong

Jill Tracy – Doomsday Serenade

Michael Schenker Group – Cry for the Nations

The Handsome Family – When that Helicopter Comes

The Legendary Pink Dots – This Could Be the End

Chris Cornell – Preaching the End of the World


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Daniel Knox’s Evryman for Himself to get full label release, tour with Handsome Family set for May

Just got some exciting news from Daniel Knox, one of my favorite recent discoveries. His album, Evryman for Himself, is getting an “official” release from Pennsylvania label La Société Expéditionnaire. I and some other fans managed to get hold of the album before this — and I’m already in love with it — but the album has been “revised, remastered and only slightly re-recorded” to become what Daniel considers its definitive form. Now we’ve got two versions for nerds like me to collect and hoard once he becomes as famous as he deserves to be. The official release is scheduled for May. Folks who bought the first version will get a discount on the new one.

Daniel is also planning to tour in the UK with Brett and Rennie Sparks of the Handsome Family and making an appearance at Amanda Stern’s Happy Ending Reading Series in NYC at Joe’s Pub. Late spring shows are planned for Chicago and New York “and more stateside dates to be announced soon.” (It would be awesome if “stateside” includes Austin…)

If you want to get an immediate Daniel Knox fix, check out the amazing album Disaster on Bandcamp. You can stream it, or download it for $1 per song or $8 for the album.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the UK, see if you can catch one of these shows:

05.11.11 GATESHEAD, UK SAGE (Hall 2)

If you want to see just how crazy I am about Daniel Knox, read the post I wrote back in September:

Daniel Knox ‘s strange beautiful songs could be future American standards

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Almost Halloween — time to harvest those beautiful dark songs

Peter Murphy is coming to get you.

I’ve loved Halloween ever since I can remember. I think I enjoy it even more than Christmas. There’s something about the creativity and imagination it inspires. I also get a kick out of that little chill that comes from being scared of something you don’t really have to be afraid of. It’s cathartic I think.

Thinking back on Halloween makes me feel like a kid again, when I guessed the number of pumpkin seeds in a jar and won a jack-o-lantern at school, went trick-or-treating dressed as a pirate, came home and ate candied apples, went through the haunted house and felt the dead man’s eyes and guts (grapes and macaroni). Plastic vampire teeth and those little wax harmonicas that used to drive my dad batty. Sitting in the dark with my best friend and a flashlight, telling ghost stories.

Now that I’ve grown up it isn’t quite the same of course. I don’t dress up as anything for Halloween (although last year, I put on skull make-up for El Dia De Los Muertes for a parade in Austin). I mainly just get in the mood by playing awesome songs, and maybe that’s what I like best about Halloween when you get down to it: There are a lot of really cool scary songs. It seems to bring out the best in so many musicians.

Here are some videos for Halloween, things I really like. No “Monster Mash” here. I like things a little darker than that.

And just for good measure, a list of Halloween favorites (Let’s see your list of scary songs):

The Legendary Pink Dots  – “Hellsville,” “Needles (Version Sirius)” and many more…

Meat Beat Manifesto – “She’s Unreal,” “Oblivion/Humans.”

Doleful Lions – “The Rats are Coming, the Werewolves are Here”

Handsome Family – “When that Helicopter Comes,” “So Much Wine.”

Bauhaus – “Bela Lugosi’s Dead,” “The Dog’s a Vapour.”

Concrete Blonde – “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song),” “Jonestown.”

Elysian Fields – “Hearts are Open Graves,” “Rope of Weeds,” “Queen of the Meadow,” and a lot more…

Tones on Tail – “Burning Skies,” “Movement of Fear.”

Peter Murphy – “Funtime”

The Shroud – “The Passion of Lovers is for Death” (Bauhaus cover–I like this version better)

NWA – “Natural Born Killaz”

The Cure – “Lullaby,” “Hanging Gardens,” “Other Voices.”

The Smithereens – “Blood and Roses”

Alan Parsons Project – “The Raven,” “The Tell-Tale Heart,” and basically the entire Tales of Mystery and Imagination album


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Goin’ ‘batty’ over Deadman, Los Autenticos

Here's a shot of the bats. Best I could do with a cheap camera. Had to mess with the photo in GIMP. Otherwise it would be black on black.

Last Saturday I went to the 6th annual Batfest in Austin. They closed off the Congress Ave. Bridge (now the Ann Richards Bridge, though I’ll probably never learn to call it that) and filled it with folks in booths trying to sell things, bounce houses for the kids, plenty of food & drink, and at each end of the bridge there was a stage. The south end had Mexican and Tejano music; the north end was all about the rock ‘n’ roll. Free admission. Just pitched in a dollar donation for Bat Conservation International.

It gave me a chance to do something I hadn’t done in a long time: watch the bats fly out from their famous colony under the bridge. And something I’d been meaning to do for a long time: check out a really great local band called Deadman. I also got irresponsible and ate carnival food: turkey meatball curry (which I spilled on my shirt) and a funnel cake. At least I refrained from getting the chicken fried bacon. And I saw a good band called Los Autenticos de Tierra Caliente that I thought might be from Mexico that turned out to be from Cedar Park, my current stomping grounds.

Deadman rocks out at Batfest, Aug. 21, 2010

I’ve been a fan of Deadman for a long time, but in the years since I first discovered the group, it has evolved into something a bit different. It used to be the project of Steve and Sheryl Collins, who at one time lived in McGregor, near Waco, and had a little cafe. They divorced and Steve moved to Austin, where he now performs as Deadman with a group of excellent musicians. Sheryl, whose last name is now Segrest, is performing in Fort Worth.

The first version of Deadman, at least based on the two CDs I bought, Paramour and Our Eternal Ghosts, was what I would call alternative-country in the same vein as the Handsome Family. Very atmospheric. Made me think of Daniel Lanois and The Cowboy Junkies.

What I heard Saturday had a rootsy, bluesy, country rock aesthetic. Although there was an obvious Neil Young influence (one of the songs Steve said was an attempt to capture the style of Neil Young and Crazy Horse’s Rust Never Sleeps), the main influence I heard was The Band. There was also a country gospel sound. Some songs in fact had definite Biblical themes: “Brother John” and “Oh Delilah.”

It was definitely enough to make me want more, and since Deadman is now based in Austin, playing frequently at the Saxon Pub, I don’t have a lot of excuses.

Here’s a video to give you idea of Deadman’s sound:

Hmm, I still hear some Lanois in that…

Check out the band’s website: DeadmanOnline.com

Los Autenticos de Tierra Caliente, based in Cedar Park, Texas.

And more on the first band I heard when I first showed up: Los Autenticos de Tierra Caliente: Very good. Mostly fast-paced stuff, merengue with a Mexican spin, plus conjunto and norteno type music. They substituted keyboards for the bass and accordion, which I kind of missed, but that’s fairly typical of north-of-the-border Tejano bands. They had a couple of really good trombonists.

Check them out on their MySpace page.

Also look at all the people down by the Austin American-Statesman office waiting for the bats to come out. The crowd of people who turn out for the bats is probably more of a trip for me than the animals themselves. That was early too. Lots more were on the grassy knoll and on the bridge rail by the time the critters went out to feed.

Batty humans.

Oh and… Also saw Batman:


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