Soundblabs Most Depressing Album and Moor review of Family Picnic

THE TOP 40 MOST DEPRESSING ALBUMS

 by Kevin Orton    25 Apr 2019
“These are oft cited as the most depressing and dark albums of all time. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in my book. There’s something to be said for an artist laying it on the line and going to places where angels fear to tread. I don’t find them depressing. I find them inspiring and beautiful.”
Coming in at Number 36 ( Really? Not a bummer enough for Number 1?):

The first song on Pictures from Life’s Other Side is a little jarring to the sensibilities.

Actually, all the songs are jarring in one way or another, but that first song is just plain unpleasant. The image that comes to mind is of Nick Cave sitting in on a session with Morphine and something going terribly wrong. Luckily, I persevered and waited for track number-two. From then on, I was hooked.

Track number-two, titled “Worried Mind,” and featuring a chorus lifted from Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya,” is pure, sinister listening pleasure. Johnny Dowd is funny, scary, and ultimately, highly entertaining. His musical arrangements are inventive, occasionally hypnotic, even sensual… let’s see, what other adjectives can I throw in here? I’ll say this. Try slow-dancing to “Worried Mind” by candlelight and see if you don’t have some kind of epiphany.

Johnny Dowd is like the Hal Ketchum of the current indie scene. You may recall that Ketchum broke through as a country music recording artist only after a much less visible career in construction or roofing or some such. Similarly, Dowd was in the army and then worked as a furniture mover for many of his fifty-one years, although since he released his first album, Wrong Side of Memphis, which showed up on a number of critics’ Ten Best lists for 1998, he might be able to hire someone to move his furniture now.

Dowd writes his own songs, and given the nature of these tunes, it’s no surprise that he gets a lot of press as some kind of weirdo. Jason Ankeny, a critic for the All-Music Guide, described Dowd’s work as “sick, twisted… and genuinely horrifying.” (see full review below-Ed.) I don’t know if it’s all that. It’s what rock and roll should be: pushing the edge of the envelope. As Dowd himself has said, “a few times I lost the faith, but I’m still a true believer in the power of music. Rock-n-roll is my religion.”

In “The Girl Who Made Me Sick,” Dowd sings “You have a dirty, dirty mind; you got a missionary smile. It’s a strange combination; it drove me crazy after a while.” I wonder if this qualifies as projection, psychologically speaking?

I should mention that Kim Sherwood-Caso’s backing vocals are perfect on this album.

Overall, Pictures from Life’s Other Side rates a Groovy Factor of Four out of Five, which means I’d go out and buy it right now if I wasn’t lucky enough to already own it.

 – Original review in Eclectica

AllMusic Review by Jason Ankeny

If there was even the tiniest bit of comfort to be wrung from Johnny Dowd‘s singularly disturbing debut album, Wrong Side of Memphis, it was that the record’s stark, homespun tales of murder, misery, and malice seemed light years removed from reality, evoking a backwoods dementia so completely over the top it often threatened to veer into the ridiculous. Pictures from Life’s Other Side ups the ante considerably: Complete with full-band backing, crisp production, and a broader musical spectrum, the effect is much more chilling, as within this more conventional framework, Dowd‘s obsessions manifest themselves in new and sinister ways, cloaking his fixations and fetishes behind the subterfuge of a suspiciously listenable blend of country, blues, and pop. Where Wrong Side of Memphis immediately revealed itself as the ravings of a madman, Pictures from Life’s Other Side is much sneakier — at first glance, “Hope You Don’t Mind” appears to be a heart-wrenching ballad of unrequited love, but on closer inspection the object of the middle-aged Dowd‘s affection is a schoolgirl; likewise, the hauntingly atmospheric “No Woman’s Flesh But Hers” is a testament to undying love, in this case a husband’s pledge to his comatose wife. Sick, twisted, and undeniably compelling, Pictures from Life’s Other Sidedelivers where countless shock rock and gangsta rap records fall short, capturing a musical vision that’s genuinely disquieting.

 

Still shooting for that Number One spot with his latest release Family Picnic:

johnny dowd family picnic

Johnny Dowd debuteerde zo’n dertig jaar geleden met een donker Americana-album, Wrong Side of Memphis, en met Family Picnic keert hij terug naar die rootsrock omgeving. De teksten hebben nog steeds die zwarte humor, luister maar eens naar het portret dat hij van een familie neerzet in de titelsong van dit album, daar zou je niet vrolijk van worden, als hij het niet zo grappig formuleerde. En dat is eigenlijk ook waarom ik een zwak heb voor deze Amerikaanse singer/songwriter – hij is grappig en werkt op mijn lachspieren, ook met een nummer als Let’s Have a Party, waarbij ik echt onweerstaanbaar in de lach schiet, hoe knullig die drums ook mogen klinken, of misschien wel juist daarom. Hij opent overigens met een heel lekkere instrumental, Hoodoo, die je meteen in de stemming brengt voor goede moordballades en liedjes over andere ellende.

Johnny Dowd is inmiddels zeventig en laat zich begeleiden door twee muzikanten waar hij vaker mee samenwerkte, Michael Edmondson en Kim Sherwood-Caso, en dat werkt perfect. Een perfect Americana-album. Mis de tournee niet die Dowd begin 2019 naar Europa brengt.

Luister hier naar een paar fragmenten:

 – Original Article

Johnny Dowd made his debut some thirty years ago with a dark Americana album, Wrong Side of Memphis, and with Family Picnic he returns to that roots rock environment. The lyrics still have that black humor, just listen to the portrait he puts down from a family in the title song of this album, you wouldn’t be happy if he didn’t put it that funny. And that is actually why I have a weakness for this American singer / songwriter – he is funny and works on my muscles, also with a song like Let’s Have a Party , in which I really laugh irresistibly, no matter how silly those drums are. may sound, or perhaps precisely because of that. Incidentally, he opens with a very tasty instrumental, Hoodoo, which immediately gets you in the mood for good murder ballads and songs about other misery.

Johnny Dowd is now seventy and is accompanied by two musicians with whom he has collaborated more often, Michael Edmondson and Kim Sherwood-Caso, and that works perfectly. A perfect Americana album.

 – translation by Google

Live @ Lokaal42 – last day of Family Picnic tour!

Eindelijk bij Lokaal42 Johnny Dowd! Met zijn nieuwe album Family Picnic op zak tourt hij vanaf april 2019 door Europa en doet daarbij ook ons lokaal aan!

– Johnny Dowd –
Alternatieve countryzanger Johnny Dowd fascineert fans en critici al sinds zijn eerste album Wrong Side of Memphis in 1997 uitkwam. Met ongeveer één nieuw album per jaar blijft hij zijn eigen draai geven aan de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek. Hij maakt donkere, maar humoristische en catchy songs die doen denken aan Tom Waits, Nick Cave en Captain Beefheart.

– Family Picnic –
Op 1 maart 2019 komt het nieuwe album Family Picnic uit, waarin Dowd terugkeert naar de roots rock arena waar hij ooit mee begon. Dertig jaar lang maakt hij al albums die de trends trotseren; een unieke verzameling werk dat met kop en schouders uitsteekt boven zijn gelauwerde tijdgenoten.

– Johnny Dowd over zijn nieuwe album –
“Had to dig pretty deep for this one. Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick tock. This record took an unexpected turn to the past — my past. It’s kind of like “Wrong Side of Memphis” 30 years down the road. Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is). I’m still drawn to the same themes — unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and boom chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. Plus Kim Sherwood-Caso and Mike Edmondson. What’s not to like? An Americana classic, if I do say so myself.”
— Johnny Dowd

Finally at Lokaal42 Johnny Dowd! With his new album Family Picnic in his pocket, he will be touring Europe from April 2019 and also visiting us locally! – Johnny Dowd – Alternative country singer Johnny Dowd has fascinated fans and critics ever since his first album Wrong Side of Memphis was released in 1997. With about one new album a year, he continues to give his own twist to American roots music. He makes dark but humorous and catchy songs that are reminiscent of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Captain Beefheart. – Family Picnic – On March 1, 2019, the new album Family Picnic will be released, in which Dowd returns to the roots rock arena he once started. For thirty years he has been making albums that defy trends; a unique collection of work that stands head and shoulders above its acclaimed contemporaries.

Live @ KOHI Kulturraum

 

photo by Kat Dalton

Alternative-Country irgendwo zwischen Noise, Elektro, Punk und DiY (NY-Ithaca) Einlass 19.30h

www.johnnydowd.com/
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnny_Dowd

Johnny Dowd trinkt gerne Whisky, ist Vietnamveteran und ehemaliger Möbelspediteur, war immerhin mal zwei Wochen verheiratet und singt, so schrieb ein Rezensent, “wie ein Serienkiller, der in einem Staubsauger gefangen ist”. Seine Songs sind skurrile Gesamtkunstwerke, zusammengebastelt aus Versatzstücken von Country, Blues und allem anderen. Dazu scheppert das Schlagzeug, Texte über unerwiderte Liebe, Mord und andere Fiesheiten stellen einem die Nackenhaare, und verzerrte Gitarren krachen, als würde es kein Morgen geben. Gibt es vielleicht auch nicht, denn wie Dowd selbst sagt: “Ich bin mir nicht sicher, wie viele Melodien ich noch in mir habe. Tick tock.” (a)

Johnny Dowd likes to drink whiskey, is a Vietnam veteran and former furniture forwarder, was married for two weeks and sings, a reviewer wrote, ” like a serial killer trapped in a vacuum cleaner. ” His songs are quirky Gesamtkunstwerke, made up of pieces of country, blues and everything else. The drums clank, lyrics about unrequited love, murder and other nasties put the hackles, and distorted guitars crack, as if there would be no tomorrow. Maybe it does not exist because, as Dowd himself says, “I’m not sure how many tunes I still have in it, tick tock.”

Live @ de Peppel with Melle de Boer (Family Picnic review by Da Music)

Exclusief in De Peppel: Johnny Dowd! Met zijn nieuwe album Family Picnic op zak tourt hij vanaf april 2019 door Europa. We zijn trots te melden dat de show in De Peppel de ENIGE is in Nederland! Mis het niet!

– Johnny Dowd –
Alternatieve countryzanger Johnny Dowd fascineert fans en critici al sinds zijn eerste album Wrong Side of Memphis in 1997 uitkwam. Met ongeveer één nieuw album per jaar blijft hij zijn eigen draai geven aan de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek. Hij maakt donkere, maar humoristische en catchy songs die doen denken aan Tom Waits, Nick Cave en Captain Beefheart.

– Family Picnic –
Op 1 maart 2019 komt het nieuwe album Family Picnic uit, waarin Dowd terugkeert naar de roots rock arena waar hij ooit mee begon. Dertig jaar lang maakt hij al albums die de trends trotseren; een unieke verzameling werk dat met kop en schouders uitsteekt boven zijn gelauwerde tijdgenoten.

– Johnny Dowd over zijn nieuwe album –
“Had to dig pretty deep for this one. Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick tock. This record took an unexpected turn to the past — my past. It’s kind of like “Wrong Side of Memphis” 30 years down the road. Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is). I’m still drawn to the same themes — unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and boom chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. Plus Kim Sherwood-Caso and Mike Edmondson. What’s not to like? An Americana classic, if I do say so myself.”
— Johnny Dowd

– Support: Melle de Boer –
Van Melle de Boer is bekend dat hij misschien wel de mooiste liedjes schrijft in Den Haag en zijn sporen lang en breed verdiend heeft met Smutfish/Smetvis en Henk & Melle.

Zaterdag 20 april speel ik in Poppodium de Peppelmet John Dowd en Michael. Ik spit in mijn oude, hervonden liedjes. Ze katapulten me naar een andere periode en daardoor snap ik mijn nu iets beter.

Saturday April 20 I play in Poppodium de Peppel with John Dowd and Michael. I dig into my old, recovered songs. They catapult me ​​to a different period and that is why I get a little better now.

Melle de Boer

Exclusive in De Peppel: Johnny Dowd! With his new album Family Picnic in his pocket, he will be touring Europe from April 2019. We are proud to announce that the show in De Peppel is the ONLY in the Netherlands! Don’t miss it – Johnny Dowd – Alternative country singer Johnny Dowd has fascinated fans and critics ever since his first album Wrong Side of Memphis was released in 1997. With about one new album a year, he continues to give his own twist to American roots music. He makes dark but humorous and catchy songs that are reminiscent of Tom Waits, Nick Cave and Captain Beefheart. – Family Picnic – On March 1, 2019, the new album Family Picnic will be released, in which Dowd returns to the roots rock arena he once met began. For thirty years he has been making albums that defy trends; a unique collection of work that stands head and shoulders above his acclaimed contemporaries.- Johnny Dowd about his new album – “Had to dig pretty deep for this one. Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick tock. This record took an unexpected turn to the past – my past It’s child of like “Wrong Side of Memphis” 30 years down the road Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is) I’m still drawn to the same themes – unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and tree chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. Plus Kim Sherwood-Caso and Mike Edmondson. What’s not to like?

Support: Melle de Boer – Van Melle de Boer is known to have written the most beautiful songs in The Hague and has earned his spurs long and wide with Smutfish / Smetvis and Henk & Melle. Saturday April 20 I will play in Poppodium de Peppelmet John Dowd and Michael. I dig into my old, recovered songs. They catapult me ​​to another period and that’s why I get a little better now. Saturday April 20 I play at Poppodium de Peppel with John Dowd and Michael. I dig into my old, recovered songs. They catapult me ​​to a different period and that’s why I get a little better now.
-Melle de Boer

Johnny Dowd – Family Picnic

19 april 2019
Patrick Van Gestel

Mother Jinx Records

De afgelopen paar platen maakte Johnny Dowd het de neutrale luisteraar niet eenvoudig. Met elektronica in combinatie met hyperkinetische gitaren leek hij zijn duivels uit te willen drijven, gezien het in de voorafgaande zeventig jaar met drank, drugs en doodgewone rock-‘n-roll toch niet gelukt was. Of hij dan nu rust gevonden heeft? Wel… niet echt.

Maar hij brengt het wel weer op een iets meer toegankelijke manier. ‘Family Picnic’ is eigenlijk gewoon een … euh, picknick, vergeleken met pakweg ‘Execute American Folklore‘. Maar verwacht je niet aan wonderen. Johnny Dowd is nog altijd voor honderd procent Johnny Dowd. Dat wil zeggen: prachtige eenvoud, maffe teksten en die uit honderden herkenbare drawl, die hem typeert.

En dan zijn er uiteraard die mistroostige teksten, die hij steevast declameert. In de opener Hoodoo kan hij zich nog net inhouden. Daar laat hij zijn gitaar de vrije loop en krijgt de vibrafoon voorrang. Maar dan is er de wals, die het sarcastische The Man Of Your Dreams is, en de prachtige blueskraker Vicksburg, waarin hij de Amerikaanse burgeroorlog op de korrel neemt op zijn eigen unieke manier: dood en verderf, maden en vliegen bevolken een nummer over deze en bij uitbreiding alle oorlogen.

Als je nu denkt dat de elektronica helemaal verdwenen is, heb je het ook mis. Dat was al aan de opener te merken, maar ook aan een song als Shameless. Je vraagt je enkel af of Dowd dit nu doet omdat hij hiermee de volledige controle heeft (en dus geen drummer en bassist nodig heeft). Maar het doet er eigenlijk al lang niet meer toe: dit is gewoon de stijl die Johnny Dowd hanteert en zich helemaal eigen heeft gemaakt. Like it or not. Hij weet die elektronica ook perfect te integreren in zijn gitaarspel. Getuige een nummer als Stuttering Wind.

“I sing songs of lust and depravity / that’s the only kind of songs come out of me” zingt hij in het überironische Thomas Dorsey, waarin hij zijn bewondering voor de desbetreffende gospelzanger de vrije loop laat en dan smeekt: “I wish that satan would let me go”. Maar wat ons betreft mag Dowd gewoon blijven wie hij is: een getikte rockzanger met meer dan één hoek af, die zijn blik op dit leven – Family Picnic, ziet u? – met u deelt.

Het heeft iets kinderlijk eerlijks, dat nieuwe album van Johnny Dowd. En tegelijkertijd ademt het ouderwetse kwaliteit uit, maar dan wel op Dowds eigenzinnige manier.

  – Original article

The last couple of albums Johnny Dowd did not make it easy for the neutral listener. With electronics in combination with hyperkinetic guitars, he seemed to want to cast out his devils, since he had not succeeded in the previous seventy years with alcohol, drugs and normal rock and roll. Whether he has found peace now? Well … not really.

But he does bring it back in a slightly more accessible way. ‘Family Picnic’ is actually just a… er, picnic, compared to, say, ‘ Execute American Folklore ‘. But don’t expect miracles. Johnny Dowd is still one hundred percent Johnny Dowd. That means: beautiful simplicity, silly texts and those from hundreds of recognizable drawl, which typifies him.

And then of course there are those dreary texts, which he invariably declares. In the opener Hoodoo he can just restrain himself. There he lets his guitar run free and the vibraphone is given priority. But then there is the waltz, which is the sarcastic The Man Of Your Dreams , and the beautiful blues cracker Vicksburg , in which he takes the American civil war in his own unique way: death and destruction, maggots and flies populate a song about this and by extension all wars.

If you now think that the electronics have completely disappeared, you are also wrong. You could tell that from the opener, but also from a song like Shameless . You only wonder if Dowd does this now because he has full control (and therefore does not need a drummer and bass player). But it doesn’t really matter for a long time: this is just the style that Johnny Dowd uses and has completely mastered. Like it or not. He also knows how to integrate that electronics perfectly into his guitar playing. Witness a song like Stuttering Wind .

“I sing songs of lust and depravity / that’s the only child or songs come out of me” he sings in überironic Thomas Dorsey , in which he lets his admiration for the gospel singer in question run wild and then begs: “I wish that satan would let me go “. But as far as we are concerned, Dowd can just continue to be who he is: a crazy rock singer with more than one angle, who looks at this life – Family Picnic, you see? – share with you.

It has something childishly honest about it, that new album from Johnny Dowd. And at the same time it exudes old-fashioned quality, but in Dowd’s wayward way.

– translation by Google

Live @ Het IJle Land (HCTF reviews Family Picnic)

 

Johnny Dowd

Johnny Dowd geeft al dertig jaar zijn eigen draai aan de Amerikaanse rootsmuziek. Al kan je hem niet op een genre vastpinnen want Dowd springt als een steenbok over en rond alles heen. Zonder zich van trends of hypes een fluit aan te trekken. Een unieke muzikale geest met songs die donker maar evengoed humoristisch zijn. Opgebouwd uit materiaal aangesleept uit de container waar ook Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart of Hank Williams wel eens langskwamen. En waar gitaren broederlijk naast aftandse drumcomputers staan. Johnny Dowd heeft net een nieuwe plaat uit en toert ermee door Europa. Komt dat zien!

Concert

Johnny Dowd has been giving American roots music his own twist for thirty years. Although you cannot pin it down to a genre because Dowd jumps like a capricorn over and around everything. Without worrying about trends or hypes. A unique musical spirit with songs that are dark but also humorous. Constructed from material towed from the container where also Tom Waits, Captain Beefheart or Hank Williams sometimes visited. And where guitars stand fraternally alongside decaying drum computers. Johnny Dowd has just released a new album and is touring Europe with it. Come and see! 

Dit is wat Johnny zelf weet te zeggen over zijn nieuwe album:
“I had to dig pretty deep for this one. Not sure how many more tunes I have in me. Tick tock. This record took an unexpected turn to the past — my past. It’s kind of like Wrong Side of Memphis 30 years down the road. Surprisingly little has changed for me (emotionally, that is). I’m still drawn to the same themes — unrequited love, murder, general foolishness. Waltzes and shuffles and boom chuck beats abound. Ice cream chord changes. Plus Kim Sherwood -Caso – and Mike Edmondson. What’s not to like? An Americana classic, if I do say so myself.”

“On these 14 new songs, Dowd, like America, has reverted to his dark, twisted country roots. In Dowd’s case, it’s a good thing.” — MOJO (4 stars)

Manchesterstraat 16
9000 Ghent

Johnny Dowd: Gent added to European tour

  • By Hans Werksman February 28th, 201

photo by Kat Dalton

Johnny Dowd has just announced a show in Gent on April 19 as part of his European tour to promote his new album Family Picnic: “At seventy Dowd shows no signs of aging gracefully. He is without peers in his field, but his friends and fans are willing to put up with whatever he comes up with. Luckily enough, putting out a shit album is beyond his grasp. Family Picnic caters to the converted and there is nothing wrong with that. He is a critical favourite, an incurable maverick, who is just too weird for the MOR Americana crowd to appreciate”.

Johnny Dowd goes back to the distorted country sound of his debut Wrong Side Of Memphis on his new album Family Picnic. Mind you, he doesn’t go full circle, because he never follows a consistent path with his unique blend of Americana and banged up electronics, telling tales about murder, booze and revelry against all odds. Longtime collaborator Kim Sherwood-Caso returns to the fold to add backing vocals, nearly a decade after his Wake Up The Snakes albumMichael Edmondson rides shotgun on guitar. Johnny Dowd: vocals, guitar, beats, keyboards

Family Picnic rambles and rocks, like a machine on the verge of breaking down, with Dowd’s ragged delivery seemingly barely keeping it together. But first impressions can be deceptive. Dowd knows exactly what he is doing and what will work and what will fuck things up in a good way. Take the singalong quality of Conway Twitty, a live favourite for years is presented in what appears to be a one-take wonder format – it’s that spontaneous. The title track is a depiction of family get together told in a husky spoken word way, during which he points at all the six-packs that people brought in were consumed as thing started falling apart. Back End of Spring is abrasive and foreboding, almost like a piece of musique concrète. Stuck-up Christians will frown at Thomas Dorsey, a twisted but heartfelt tribute to the father of black gospel music.

Michael Edmondson: guitar, marimba
Kim Sherwood-Caso: backing vocals

Family Picnic is released on Mother Jinx Records. CD’s are available thru his website (and the merch table at his shows).

Tracks:

  1. Hoodoo
  2. The Man of Your Dreams
  3. Vicksburg
  4. Shameless
  5. Walking the Floor
  6. Stuttering Wind
  7. Family Picnic
  8. Dream On
  9. Four Gray Walls
  10. Conway Twitty
  11. Let’s Have a Party
  12. Little Jimmy
  13. Back End of Spring
  14. Thomas Dorsey

 – Original Article