Dark and lovely songs
January 10, 2013 6:35 PM   Subscribe

Looking for beautiful songs with good lyrics that evoke a feeling of violation, dark secrets, slow growing horror

Sometimes I get into a mood where I want to hear music that makes me feel like something dark, awful, and hidden has happened, but calmly accepted.

Examples of songs that make me feel this way: Bon Iver's Blood Bank (there's something chilling about a song that starts with "I met you at the blood bank...") and Peter Gabriel's Mercy Street (about Anne Sexton's incestuous relationship with her father) or Elliott Smith or even Modest Mouse's "Float On".

Songs about damage, pain, secrets...that are beautiful and have a sort of knowing, accepting feeling. I find them cathartic.

Additional criteria:
- Not angry, loud, punk, metal, etc.
- Not whiny, crying, keening or grief-ridden songs. More of a calm acceptance of something dark. Peaceful, folk-ish, lovely.
- This is more about the beauty of the lyrics than the specific music, so Pandora and Spotify haven't been much help

Thank you!
posted by carolinaherrera to Media & Arts (99 answers total) 113 users marked this as a favorite
The Cure - Lullaby.
posted by pompomtom at 6:38 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Famous Blue Raincoat, Leonard Cohen.
posted by sweetkid at 6:41 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Hannah Marcus -- Demerol
Gabriel Kahane -- Rochester
The National -- Val Jester
posted by mlle valentine at 6:42 PM on January 10, 2013

I've always been a fan of Angie Baby by Helen Reddy for the 'cheerful twist' at the end. ymmv
posted by librarianamy at 6:43 PM on January 10, 2013

I can think of tons of Tom Waits songs that fit the bill, but right now I'm listening to Rain Dogs and I think "Jockey Full of Bourbon" (hey little bird, fly away home, house is on fire, children are alone) might be what you're looking for.
posted by stellaluna at 6:53 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mad World - Gary Jules
posted by randomnity at 6:54 PM on January 10, 2013 [6 favorites]

Anything by Joy Division

New dawn fades
Dead souls
posted by mattoxic at 6:56 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

Boston band The Milling Gowns play what they call "gloom Pop" that I think fits what you're asking for.
posted by cushie at 6:56 PM on January 10, 2013

Robyn Hitchcock - Raymond Chandler Evening
posted by moonmilk at 6:57 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Elvis Costello's cover of Leon Payne's Psycho might fit the bill.

Gillian Welch's Caleb Meyer

Neko Case's Furnace Room Lullaby
posted by peagood at 6:58 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also - not sure if it's dark enough for you, but Stars' In our bedroom after the war is lovely.
posted by randomnity at 6:58 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


Forgot Joy Division


And Bauhaus - Bela Lugosi's Dead
posted by mattoxic at 6:58 PM on January 10, 2013

Maybe Gillian Welch's latest album, The Harrow and the Harvest, is what you're after. The emotions you describe, at least, are precisely the themes of the record. IIRC, noted metalhead John Dyer Baizly was slated to do the album cover, but Welch hadn't recorded the music by the time Baizely needed the cover done, so she sent him the lyrics instead. His reaction after reading them was approximatley: "Jesus, what's wrong with you?"

For your consideration: Dark Turn of Mind, The Way it Goes.
posted by lambdaphage at 6:59 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

Catherine Wheel by Crowded House
Hours by TV on the Radio
Mommy Daddy You and I by the Talking Heads
Little Fish by P.J. Harvey
Everyone Gathers at the Chapel by Liam Finn
posted by Malla at 6:59 PM on January 10, 2013

Parts of VAST's albums might work for you, but I'm not entirely sure what counts as 'too loud' for your purposes. YT video list here.
posted by cobaltnine at 7:02 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Little Fish by P.J. Harvey

The whole Album Let England Shake is pretty death and murder heavy, highly recommended.

And of course you'll be wanting a copy of Nick Cave's Murder Ballads.
posted by Artw at 7:02 PM on January 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

"This Isn't Everything You Are"

Snow Patrol
posted by Kruger5 at 7:06 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would have expected Richard Thompson in comments number 1, 2, and 3.

You could start with Cold Kisses.
posted by mr vino at 7:14 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4rXbSnk2ng from silent hill 4. Not sure it fits the criteria 100%, but its a fun song.
posted by Jacen at 7:15 PM on January 10, 2013

'The Gardener' -- Dresden Dolls
posted by Fig at 7:17 PM on January 10, 2013

Death Cab for Cutie, "A Lack of Color"
Interpol, "A Time to be So Small"
The National, "Bloodbuzz Ohio"
Bloc Party, "Signs"
Arcade Fire, "City With No Children"
posted by thack3r at 7:26 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I saw this question and immediately thought of the many versions of The Long Black Veil. Talk about calm acceptance of a horrible fate! Johnny Cash's version is the classic, but I like this one by the Chieftains and Mick Jagger too.

You might also look into the entire output of the October Project: Bury My Lovely is a pretty good representation of what they're like, musically and lyrically. (Lyrics here.)
posted by ActionPopulated at 7:32 PM on January 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

"Hope Dies Painless" by Rome fits your description perfectly, IMO, both in terms of music and lyrics (cryptic as the latter are).

"A Strange Day" by The Cure also has this quality about it, though to some extent that depends on how one interprets the lyrics, which I can read either as being about suicide or the end of the world- I'd say it works much better for this if it's the latter.

I'm not sure I'd agree that Joy Division fits here as a whole (IMO there isn't much of the "calm acceptance" element to most of their songs, rather the opposite if anything), but I would definitely agree with the suggestion of "Atmosphere".
posted by a louis wain cat at 7:33 PM on January 10, 2013

Will Oldham's Riding
posted by fancyoats at 7:41 PM on January 10, 2013

I've always found Tori Amos' cover of I Don't Like Mondays to fit the bill for that kind of mood, especially when you know the story behind the song.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:47 PM on January 10, 2013

LYDIA by Slaid Cleaves

You're a bad person if you don't cry when you hear this.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 7:52 PM on January 10, 2013

Bush - Glycerine
Mountain Goats - Song for Dennis Brown
posted by salvia at 7:59 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Great Lake Swimmers - "Your Rocky Spine"
Fiona Apple - "Sally's Song" (from "Nightmare Before Christmas")
Allison Krauss "It Doesn't Matter"
Massive Attack - "Angel"
Underworld "8 Ball" (this song gets happier halfwayish through and I always find myself getting a little emotional for some reason)
posted by lovableiago at 8:00 PM on January 10, 2013

Oh and because I just saw Tori Amos above: "Spark"
posted by lovableiago at 8:01 PM on January 10, 2013

That's pretty much the sound of Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter.
posted by Miko at 8:01 PM on January 10, 2013

Marrissa Nadler's cover of Famous Blue Raincoat by Leonard Cohen.
In My Other World by Julee Cruise.
Pretty much anything by Lisa Germano.
Slo Fuzz by Sol Seppy.
Most things by Azure Ray.
posted by Yma at 8:03 PM on January 10, 2013

The Smiths' "The Hand that Rocks the Cradle" and "Suffer Little Children"
posted by brujita at 8:03 PM on January 10, 2013

Where the Wild Roses Grow with Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue
posted by Admira at 8:04 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans

Dar Williams - Mark Rothko Song (she has a bunch of these, but this one instantly came to mind)

Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal (listen carefully to the lyrics ...)

Joni Mitchell - Little Green

Neil Young - Down by the River
posted by lunasol at 8:04 PM on January 10, 2013

Anything by the Mountain Goats.
Anything by The Handsome Family
Shivers by the Boys Next Door

"I've been contemplating suicide, / But it really doesn't suit my style. / So I think I'll just act bored instead, / And contain the blood I would've shed."

Anything by its writer, Rowland S Howard, like Autoluminescent.

Anything by Edith Frost
Neko Case - I Wish I Was The Moon

anything by Barry Adamson

Ed Kuepper (from The Saints)

I've got dozens more. You want more alt-country, more traditional country (Merle Haggard or Townes Van Zandt can be chilling), more indie?
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:06 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just raided my iTunes...May have gone a little overboard but hopefully at least some of these are along the lines of what you're thinking - I love songs like this.

Alela Diane - The Rifle
Blitzen Trapper - Black River Killer
Broken Social Scene - Gangbang Suicide
Dawn Landes - Bodyguard
The Dresden Dolls - The Perfect Fit
Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton - Our Hell
Emily Jane White - Frozen Heart
félperc - Going Nowhere
The Frames - Dream Awake
Gram Rabbit - Devil's Playground
The Hundred In The Hands - Young Aren't Young
Iron & Wine - Cinder and Smoke
Jane Vain & The Dark Matter - C'mon Baby Say Bang Bang
Jenny Lewis – Rabbit Fur Coat
The Kills - Black Balloon
Laura Veirs - Wide-Eyed, Legless
Metric - Blindness
Mew - Her Voice Is Beyond Her Years
Morcheeba - Blood Like Lemonade
Neko Case - Deep Red Bells
Rural Alberta Advantage - Frank, AB
Sharon Van Etten - Serpents
Sufjan Stevens - John Wayne Gacy Jr
Thea Gilmore - Water to Sky
posted by eponym at 8:13 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Violent Femmes - Country Death Song
posted by N-stoff at 8:17 PM on January 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

'Halah' by Mazzy Star
posted by twentyfoursummers at 8:21 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

The National, "All Dolled-Up in Straps" (lyrics)
David Bazan, "Hard to Be" (lyrics)
Dolorean, "Hannibal, MO" (lyrics)
Firewater, "Seventh Avenue Static" (lyrics)
The Mountain Goats, "Dilaudid" (lyrics)
Sufjan Stevens, "Romulus" (lyrics)
Wye Oak, "Civilian" (lyrics)
Phosphorescent, "South (of America)" (lyrics)

pretty much everything Mark Lanegan has ever touched, I might start with "Lexington Slow Down" (lyrics)

and no matter what, Jason Molina sings like the whole world has fallen apart (lyrics -- any of them, honestly)
posted by divined by radio at 8:22 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oooh and anything by Slowdive or Bark Psychosis.
posted by Yma at 8:24 PM on January 10, 2013

Can't believe I forgot this one:
Death Cab for Cutie, "Death of an Interior Decorator" (lyrics)
posted by divined by radio at 8:27 PM on January 10, 2013

Bass Song - Hayden
Hurt - Johnny Cash
Monkey - Low
Down in it - Nine inch nails
Roads - Portishead
Rush and a push and the land is ours - The Smiths
Beyond Love - The The
posted by piyushnz at 8:38 PM on January 10, 2013

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds Stranger Than Kindness
Tindersticks Trouble Every Day
Kristen Hersh Your Ghost
Mekons "Last Weeks of the War"
Fever Ray If I Had a Heart
Nearly God (Tricky side project) Poems
Yo La Tengo Everyday
Jackson C. Frank Blues Run the Game in general.. Dialogue (I Want to Be Alone)
PJ Harvey and John Parish Civil War Correspondent
posted by citron at 8:43 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

the toadies --- possum kingdom
posted by spunweb at 8:43 PM on January 10, 2013

Someone mentioned Robyn Hitchcock-- "No, I Don't Remember Guildford" always gave me that sense of something awful being done and gone, but hiding in all the cracks.
posted by like_a_friend at 8:54 PM on January 10, 2013

Two more Sufjan Stevens songs:
Casimir Pulaski Day
Chicago (I like the "Adult Contemporary Listening" version)
posted by jaksemas at 10:11 PM on January 10, 2013

Greg Brown - Sadness
posted by 2N2222 at 10:21 PM on January 10, 2013

John Prine, Six O'Clock News
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 10:24 PM on January 10, 2013

"Violation, dark secrets, slow-growing horror"? You want 'Do You Love Me (Part 2)' by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I'm using my phone and am terrible at linking with it, but these are some of the lyrics from memory:
here's a man in the theatre with girlish eyes
Who's holding my childhood to ransom
On the screen there's a death, there's a rustle of cloth
And a sickly voice calling me handsome
There's a man in the theatre with sly girlish eyes
On the screen there's an ape, a gorilla
There's a groan, there's a cough, there's a rustle of cloth
And a voice that stinks of death and vanilla
This is a secret, mauled and mangled
And the coins in my pocket go jingle-jangle
posted by bunglin jones at 11:05 PM on January 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I think you need to pick up the Dar Williams/Lucy Kaplansky/Richard Shindell colab album Cry Cry Cry, which is generally good and has a couple of tracks fitting this description. See, for example, Northern Cross. It's also a cover album, so it's a decent jumping off point for other investigations.

I totally second the Neko Case suggestions. And Gillian Welch.

A couple of other random ideas:

The band known for that super-peppy uber-80s tune Take on Me has also done some darker/discomfiting stuff: I've Been Losing You & Sycamore leaves.

American Tune (pick from Eva Cassidy or Paul Simon or probably a lot of other people).

Keane's Spiralling (or if you want a more folksy version, you could try my cover on MeFi music).

posted by weston at 11:11 PM on January 10, 2013

Concrete Blonde, Joey
posted by islander at 11:23 PM on January 10, 2013

Promise Me, Courtney Saunders.
posted by ostro at 12:00 AM on January 11, 2013

Some Deine Lakaien songs fit the bill. I'd start with "Wasted Years" and "Walk to the Moon". Also, some of Alexander Veljanov's solo songs.
posted by MinusCelsius at 2:57 AM on January 11, 2013

Darren Hayes:
Neverland (from the perspective of a very young child watching his mother be physically abused by his father)
Step into the Light (starts anguished but builds more to acceptance)
Who Would Have Thought
A Conversation with God (iffy?)

Darren Hayes's entire album This Beautiful Thing We've Made is about accepting all the bad things that have happened to him, so the songs transition from dark and intimate to uplifting and cathartic. Sometimes it's in a single track or over an arc of songs, but if you like Step Into the Light you'd probably like the album. I don't know if you consider soprano male voices inherently keening or not, though; he usually sounds soothing and only does keening for effect when it's useful.

The Cardigans - And Then You Kissed Me

Depeche Mode:
Suffer Well
I Want It All (iffy?)
Damaged People (iffy?)

I feel like a lot of Depeche Mode songs, and the whole album Playing the Angel, might fit what you're looking for.

Come Back to Camden
I'm Not Sorry (he sings this with a sort of acceptance in his tone, like it's just factual and doesn't bother him exactly... which is sort of depressing or cathartic depending on your outlook)
All the Lazy Dykes (iffy?)

Morrissey is so matter of fact about depressing things in some songs that I would call it "calm," but then I'm not sure it has the same aspects you're looking for when you say "calm." If resigned or bored or gone-through-bitter-and-out-the-other-side count... Elliott Smith strikes me the same way but I wouldn't call him uplifting at all, so I'm throwing this out there anyway.

Depeche Mode and Darren Hayes remind me of Peter Gabriel in some of the ways you describe, mostly in the dark "feel" of songs, but again, not entirely sure it's what you mean. And both have a ton more songs that have that same feel, but don't fit the rest of your criteria, so if you like any of those try others from the same albums.
posted by Nattie at 2:58 AM on January 11, 2013

Vienna Teng - Passage
posted by CarolynG at 3:08 AM on January 11, 2013

Pretty much anything from Polly Scattergood's eponymous debut album fits the bill. I Hate The Way is as good a place to start as any...
posted by benzo8 at 3:32 AM on January 11, 2013

Several songs by the New Zealand band Straitjacket Fits would work. For example: If I were you.
posted by gaspode at 4:39 AM on January 11, 2013

Tom McRae's 'You Cut Her Hair'.
posted by winna at 4:46 AM on January 11, 2013

low, for sure. pretty much everything off things we lost in the fire fills me with beauty and dread, but here are a couple:

amazing grace
posted by soi-disant at 4:52 AM on January 11, 2013

Gary Numan - Down in the Park.
Imagine Dragons - Radioactive
Peter Schilling - Major Tom
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:55 AM on January 11, 2013

Not whiny, crying, keening or grief-ridden songs. More of a calm acceptance of something dark. Peaceful, folk-ish, lovely.

Darren Hayman's Essex trilogy (Pram Town, Essex Arms, and The Violence) may have what you're looking for, especially the latter two albums. Essex Arms features mentions of car crashes, sex for money, and a murder/robbery. The Violence is about the English Civil War and Witch Hysteria (FPP that drew my attention).

You also might enjoy People Take Warning!, a "stunning, landmark 3CD Boxed Set featuring 70 beautifully remastered recordings by some of the cornerstones of American vernacular recording + a 48 page book with eye-popping historic images never before reproduced. These songs of death, destruction and disaster, recorded by black and white performers from the dawn of American roots recording, are rare audio messages in a bottle."
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:09 AM on January 11, 2013

posted by ouke at 5:19 AM on January 11, 2013

this is what you want: Bob Dylan - Lovesick

or also by Dylan:
Dark Eyes
Blood in My Eyes
posted by mrmarley at 5:24 AM on January 11, 2013

Synchronicity 2 by The Police:

"Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration
But we know all her suicides are fake
Daddy only stares into the distance
There's only so much more that he can take
Many miles away something crawls from the slime
At the bottom of a dark Scottish lake"
posted by jbickers at 5:43 AM on January 11, 2013

You are looking for Mount Eerie, from the EP Black Wooden Ceiling Opening, the tracks are "In Moonlight" and "Stop Singing". Dark, eerie, holding secrets, and total indie head-banging pleasure, ultimately.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 5:45 AM on January 11, 2013

Neutral Milk Hotel - Engine
posted by to recite so charmingly at 5:48 AM on January 11, 2013

The song that did this for me for a very long time was "A Dream" from Lou Reed and John Cale's Songs for Drella. Taken mostly verbatim from Andy Warhol's diaries. "And you can never tell anybody anything, I've learned that."
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:18 AM on January 11, 2013

Strange fruit by Billie Holliday

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

posted by SLC Mom at 6:42 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Patty Griffin does bleak beautifully.

Useless Desires
"Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, old friend. You won't be seeing me again."

Long Ride Home
"Forty years go by with someone laying in your bed. Forty years of things you say you wish you'd never said. How hard would it have been to say some kinder words instead? I wonder as I stare up at the sky turning red"
posted by booth at 6:56 AM on January 11, 2013

+1 for Richard Thompson, and while your description covers much of his catalog, I immediately thought of Killing Jar. I'm revisiting it now, with a full version on youtube.
posted by love is a murderer at 7:46 AM on January 11, 2013

Black Box Recorder pretty much made a whole career out of this.
posted by neroli at 8:33 AM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Mountain Goats - Marduk T-Shirt Mens Room Incident
posted by MsMolly at 8:42 AM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Star Witness by Neko Case
("Go on go on and scream and cry
You're miles from where anyone will find you
This is nothing new, no television crew
They don't even put on the siren")

Also, Dirty Knife and her version of Poor Ellen Smith.
posted by Chenko at 9:10 AM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Seconding Depeche Mode. It might be a bit heavy on the electronic side, but fits the bill when I'm looking for dark and lovely (tone-wise as well as content-wise):

Depeche Mode - Halo
Depeche Mode - Waiting for the Night

Nearly everything on the Violator album is dark (at least to my sensibilities).
posted by ArgyleGargoyle at 9:17 AM on January 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

Fol Chen's Part II: The New December is a concept album about a post-apocalyptic post-revolutionary society falling into the same old patterns of tyrannical rights suppression and societal decay. But it's subtle. Some of the songs are really lovely, some are lovely in an electro-pop way.

It's a sequel to Part 1: John Shade, Your Fortune's Made, which I only just got and haven't heard yet in its entirety, but is about a post-apocalyptic revolution, and seems equally dark.
posted by audacity at 9:31 AM on January 11, 2013

Aimee Mann

Save Me.

Wise Up.
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:56 AM on January 11, 2013

More Tori Amos: Blood Roses.
posted by Ladysin at 10:00 AM on January 11, 2013

I'll agree with all the aforementioned Martin Hannett-produced choices, and by all means, get a hold of as much Nick Cave as you can.

Also, Coil "Ostia (The Death of Pasolini)" gives me the chills every single time.

There's a real melancholy to Gene Love's Jezebel's "Coal Porter"

Death in June? They always scared the bejeezus out of me.
posted by thenewbrunette at 10:47 AM on January 11, 2013

Elegia by New Order
posted by workerant at 11:04 AM on January 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mazy Star - Fade Into You, David Bowie - Heroes, and I second the Concrete Blonde suggestion and want to add Concrete Blonde -Mexican Moon.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 11:13 AM on January 11, 2013

Andrew Bird - Fake Palindromes

And I have to say I HATE the cover of Mad World by Gary Jules. You need the original by Tears For Fears. Or heck, the whole album. It's amazing.
posted by bibliogrrl at 5:06 PM on January 11, 2013

Elsa - Dancing
Cardigans - Marvel Hill, I Couldn't Care Less
J Ralph - One Million Miles
Telepopmusik - Breathe
posted by heartquake at 6:00 AM on January 12, 2013

Anything by Nick Drake. Three examples from each of his three published records:

Saturday Sun
Northern Sky
Pink Moon
posted by WalkingAround at 6:27 AM on January 12, 2013

Wilco - Via Chicago (Opening line: "I dreamed about killing you again last night, and it felt alright to me.")
posted by WalkingAround at 6:33 AM on January 12, 2013

Aimee Mann

Also Little Bombs and Thirty One Today. Girlfriend knows how to make you want to take a shower.
posted by psoas at 6:19 AM on January 14, 2013 [1 favorite]

Might violate your "no loud stuff" rule, but pretty much all of Exitmusic's songs evoke the feelings you're talking about.
posted by cnc at 2:26 PM on January 14, 2013

Totally seconding Lullaby by The Cure - utterly brilliant.

I have a spotify playlist that I created a couple of years ago to effectively serve this purpose (spoti.fi/13JhxhC). In addition to Lullaby, some of the songs I think that more specifically fit your remit include:

Bat for Lashes - Daniel (currently my favourite song, period)
INXS - Need you tonight
Depeche Mode - Enjoy the silence
Portishead - Over (or in fact almost anything by Portishead)
Echobelly - Dark therapy
Kate Bush - Wuthering Heights
Tanita Tikaram - Twist in my Sobriety
Bjork - Isobel
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Maps
posted by inbetweener at 4:01 PM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wire - Feed Me
posted by black8 at 4:39 PM on January 28, 2013

Nico's The Marble Index is really good at this (and Shearwater's cover of "Nibelungen" at shows is amazing). So's early Cat Power (Tim Foljahn, pre-Covers Record era).

Also, it might just be me, but what I think of as '70s Cali rock (even though much of it is not actually based in LA) often evokes this feeling in me, for better or worse (I hate the Doors, but I suppose they are the prototype along with their hipper counterpart the Stranglers, and Suicide, while also not LA-based, has that feeling down too). Maybe it's just me though; for some reason I tend to associate the trappings of that era with dark creepiness hiding behind a veneer of sunshine and lethargic beachiness that makes it especially potent.

Crime and the City Solution/Birthday Party/early Bad Seeds ("From Her to Eternity") does it well too.

PJ Harvey's got lots of dark and pretty stuff. White Chalk in particular. Maybe Rita Lynch. Some Arab Strap. Sometimes, bands like Comsat Angels and the Sound pulled it off too.

And for my money, no one evokes beautiful dread quite like Ligeti.
posted by ifjuly at 2:26 PM on February 5, 2013

Ohohoh, and Nikki Shapiro's "Beautiful Whore" is very serene and quiet and beautiful but, yeah.

Tom Waits sometimes too.
posted by ifjuly at 2:32 PM on February 5, 2013

Oh damn, and duh, Thalia Zedek ("Evil Hand", her cover of "1926", "Strong"). She is a queen at this.

Crooked Fingers was pretty good at this too.
posted by ifjuly at 2:35 PM on February 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

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