– Thanks to Russell Lewis for photos of The Bank show 2016
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Album reviews: Wilco – Wilco Schmilco, Jack White – Acoustic Recordings, MIA – AIM, and more
By Andy Gill September 8th, 2016
Johnny Dowd – Execute American Folklore – 4/5
Download this: Whiskey Ate My Brain; Sexual Revolution; Last Laugh; Funkalicious
Imagine if Hank Williams had mutated into Captain Beefheart, acquiring a bunch of primitive electronic equipment along the way, and you’ll get some idea of where Johnny Dowd is at on Execute American Folklore. The songs, narrated in Dowd’s ornery, fatalist drawl, feature his usual cast of hapless characters adrift in a world of mordant ill-fortune, but this time they are driven by mutant funk grooves crafted with buzzing, quacking synthesisers. “Unease And Deviance” sets the tone, harsh drum-machine driving its account of “twisted terror, vicious pleasure”; before the protagonists of “Sexual Revolution” and “Rhumba In The Park” suffer their below-the-belt blows. But balancing this is the maniacal glee with which Dowd recounts the detriments of booze and drugs in “Whiskey Ate My Brain”, climaxing in the album’s most wonderfully tortured burst of guitar noise. Gloriously deviant.
Johnny Dowd’s new record is called “Execute American Folklore” – a grum title for a jolly record. It will be released in September Once again he played all the instruments, with assistance from his trusty drum machines. Anna Coogan contributed some really fine vocals. “I think this is the best stick-in-your-CD-player-and-drive-around record I have made. It has some killer grooves, if I do say so myself. I hope you dig it.” The album will be released early fall.
Ever since Johnny Dowd made his first record in 1997, “Wrong Side of Memphis,” he has been the alternative to the alternative. He has walked a twisted path through nearly every genre of American music. Each of his dozen albums has been an equal mix of Hank Williams and Captain Beefheart. Along the way, he has collaborated with artists as diverse as Jim White and The Mekons and toured with Neko Case and Beukorkest.