Live @ Lewes Con Club (Family Picnic review by No Depression)

 

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Daughters, Motel Mirrors, and Other Upcoming Albums That Defy Expectations

Johnny Dowd – Family Picnic

Dowd has made a career of making music full of piercingly bleak, hard fought, gnarled dreamscapes that make David Lynch’s tales seem like those of a choir boy. But just when I thought I had him figured out, Dowd delivers a blues record so beautiful that I cannot stop playing it. It is also full of demons that live on a merry-go-round with feedback and distortion taking the places of the painted ponies going up and down. Paradoxically, its’s his most accessible music in quite a while, maybe ever.

“I am guilty as sin, of what I do not know” are about the first words out of Dowd’s mouth on the album, but it’s not so much about some spurious redemption as is it an observation about the quandary we currently find ourselves in. Then, digging even deeper, he pretty well sums up the Civil War in the next track, “Vicksburg.” Lyrically, Dowd seems to have inherited Leonard Cohen’s mantle, with Kim Sherwood-Caso acting as his Julie Christensen. Nowhere is more evident than on “Dream On,” where her counterpoint is so evocative. Sit back, relax, enjoy the ride.

  –  Original Article

No Depression – The Best of Everything and a Johnny Dowd Xmas

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webclip_amos-perrineIt Was One Helluva Year: The Best of Everything in 2016

Johnny Dowd – Execute American Folklore

It’s hard to  believe that Dowd has 20 albums under his belt, not including his contributions to many others, including my personal favorite: a one-of-a kind revisionist/reimagination tribute to Townes Van Zandt, There’s a Hole in Heaven Where Some Sin Slips Through. I was fortunate to catch Dowd twice in July, where he played songs from his 21st album, Execute American Folklore. I have described him before as William S. Burroughs with a guitar, with a pre/post punk mentality, mixed with alt-country. Live, he’s a tightrope walker. But on record, the firebrand is controlled, smooth to the emotional touch as he glides — first on high, then back down to a semblance of Earth.

Dowd’s half-spoken, half-sung lyrics are like poetry set against more of an electronic backdrop that some of his other work, with a groove, a definite groove. You can also dance to it. A nice example is the segue from “Sexual Revolution” (“You’re either part of the problem or part of the pollution” with an under layer of a tortured “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” Wynette-style). That moves into the electronica of “Mr. Muggles,” punctuated with horns and the operatic vocal of Anna Coogan, where Coogan plays Klaus Nomi to Dowd’s Bowie. Then again into “Rumba in the Park” with a Caribbean, rockabilly feel with a distant fuzzy guitar where you have found yourself in a Jim Jarmusch movie. I don’t think Dowd has ever been more literate than on this album, with his vocals distinctly mixed so you can bask into the Beat-like delivery and imagery.  (Dowd is also included in ND’s fall issue, “Speak Up!”)

 – Original Article with The Rest of the Best

                                           It’s a Johnny Dowd Christmas!

  • webclip_terrell-headerBy Steve Terrell
  • December 25th, 2016

There’s no Terrell’s Sound World tonight, but to make up for it, here are THREE Christmas songs from the unstopable Johnny Dowd!

(Thanks and Merry Xmas to T. Tex Edwards, whose tweet just a few minutes ago inspired this post. Now I’m waiting for the T. Tex Christmas album …)

Your Vote DOES Count! Mojo reviews Execute American Folklore

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Now it’s time to log in and vote in the No Depression Readers Poll. And just to make it perfectly clear:

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Jeez, you think they left out any genres???

 

 

Terrel’s Tune-Up reviews Execute American Folklore

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A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican 
Sept. 23, 2016

* Execute American Folklore by Johnny Dowd. You might not hear any obvious similarities between The Handsome Family and Dowd, but both appeared in a wonderful 2003 documentary by musician Jim White called Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

Dowd, in fact, was touted as “alternative country” when his first album was released in the late ’90s. The first time I saw him live was at a party for No Depression magazine at the famed Austin honky-tonk the Broken Spoke.

But the only thing that sounds remotely country about Dowd on his last several albums is his Pauls Valley, Oklahoma, drawl.

This new album is much closer to hip-hop or electronica — though commercial radio stations devoted to those formats are no more likely to play this album than is your basic hot new country station. And some songs are infused with Latin touches (what might be described as a Martian mambo) or even metal. Truth be told, Johnny Dowd doesn’t really sound much like anyone but Johnny Dowd.

And I happen to love that sound. Here Dowd himself plays all the instruments — except the instrument named Anna Coogan, who sings background vocals on several songs and lead vocals on one. Dowd mostly speaks rather than sings his lyrics.

There are some doozies on Execute American Folklore. He dedicates the ultra funky “Last Laugh” to his mother, “a union maid if ever there was one.” In the song, however, his mom is a call girl. But the story, laced with Biblical imagery, actually deals with some bitter loser — lots of Dowd protagonists fall into this category — plotting unspecified revenge against those who have wronged him.

“Sexual Revolution” is not about the joy of sex. Dowd recites a tale of a frustrated man whose cheating wife leaves him in a sad world where “pornographic fantasies infect my brain, filling me up with guilt and shame.”

Then in the deceptively upbeat “Whiskey Ate My Brain,” the singer catalogs his physical and mental deterioration. “Cancer ate my liver, God’s an Indian giver … Cocaine ate my nose, I can’t smell the roses.”

Coogan steps out front in “Brains-a-flame,” which sounds like Dowd has been listening to the old Brazilian psychedelic Tropicália band Os Mutantes. She sings about her dream man who “chain-smokes my heart three packs a day/He’s like a bad habit who won’t go away.”

In the closing track, “A World Without Me,” built on the classic “Louie Louie”/”Hang on Sloopy” hook, Dowd muses about the fact that memories of his life will quickly fade.

But the song only makes me fantasize about archaeologists in a future century stumbling across a cache of Dowd albums, prompting them to write surreal theories about life in the early 21st century.

Some videos for yas

Here’s “Gold” from The Handsome Family. This one has some nice footage of East Central in Albuquerque.

Another favorite from Unseen
Here’s some live Johnny Dowd with his latest band The Sex Robots. (You might want to skip the first 20 seconds or so. Weird buzz before the song starts.) Despite what the YoutTube title says, this is “Whisky Ate My Brain.”

Anna Coogan steps out front with “Brains A Flame.”

And just for the heck of it, here’s the trailer for Searching for the Wrong-Eyed Jesus.

 – Original Article

 

Editors note: 

Steve called it right-It’s Whiskey Ate My Brain on the Execute CD. But in our defense:

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On the other hand, poor editing of the video has no excuse but ignorance. Any one want to lend a hand?