Sad Bastard Music?
September 26, 2013 12:56 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for some new suggestions for good sad bastard music - that is, stuff that can leave you nice and melancholy when it's late at night and you want to feel comfortably down & depressed. To frame this a little I should note that Nick Drake, The Softies, early-period Belle & Sebastian, and The Mountain Goats have been go-to choices in the past. Thanks!
posted by Going To Maine to Media & Arts (76 answers total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
 
808s & Heartbreak by Kanye West
posted by hal_c_on at 1:04 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band. is my go to for melancholy right now.

You can not go wrong with the original sad bastard, Leonard Cohen.
posted by St. Sorryass at 1:16 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've recommended this before, but Tindersticks with their imaginatively titled debut Tindersticks. The entire record should wilt you up nicely. And off their second album this epic of dissipated and dessicated emotions. Perhaps their finest hour, so to speak.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 1:21 AM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Richard Thompson (in his acoustic mode) is always a good go-to for this. I came in to recommend Small Town Romance, a 1982 solo live set originally released in '84 and then rereleased sometime in the '90s, but it looks like it's out of print again.

Though I will also sometimes put even a full-band RT album on at low volume in the wee hours for a satisfying melancholy effect -- even the occasional rave-ups and blistering guitar solos have an underlying introspective tone about them, in part due to the lyrics and in part due to the way Thompson's voice just latches on to those minor keys. And the sad songs are all the more powerful with full instrumentation.

In college it was often Hand of Kindness; today I'd probably put on one of the many live sets that have been released on various smaller labels or via RT's website. A boatload seem to be available on iTunes and Amazon.
posted by sesquipedalia at 1:33 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Morphine.

The Beta Band.
posted by logicpunk at 1:34 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Low

Red House Painters
posted by pipeski at 2:07 AM on September 26, 2013 [7 favorites]


Red House Painters a million times over. Also Mark Kozelek solo, and as Sun Kil Moon.
posted by macdara at 2:17 AM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Black Heart Procession! Also a lot of the early stuff from Will Oldham / Palace / Palace Music / Palace Songs / Bonnie "Prince" Billy. He starts to cheer up a bit in the early 2000s, but his 90s work was beautifully fragile.
posted by ZipRibbons at 2:40 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Bon Iver does this for me every time, which is probably because he writes entire aching albums of songs that sound like wistfulness, loneliness and dire heartbreak. I can't even listen to some of it if I'm in a slightly fragile state!

In fact as usual I have a whole playlist of this music if you're on Spotify :)
posted by greenish at 2:41 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Marissa Nadler
posted by jeto at 2:54 AM on September 26, 2013


The new record by Jenny Hval is one of my favorite albums of the year and it is depressing as crap.

Oh did you see Mazzy Star has a new album out? It's Mazzy Starish.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 3:10 AM on September 26, 2013


You should definitely look into the work of Jason Molina, if you haven't yet. I recommended this group-album earlier in the "slide guitar" thread. Consider Songs: Ohia - Just Be Simple on the Magnolia Electric Co album. If you like it, I recommend checking out the entire album, which is stocked full with this kind of melancholy.

Also, I get similar feelings from some of the quieter output of the Microphones (Phil Elvrum). Consider The Microphones - I felt Your Shape. If you like that, I would also recommend most songs from the Microphones Live in Japan album. The Microphones - Great Ghosts is a particularly good example from that one – kind of a "I hate that I hate myself" theme to it, in my opinion. Love.
posted by mean square error at 4:00 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Seconding Leonard Cohen, some mid dylan (blood on the tracks), and don't forget some sadder Willie Nelson. Not Sad bastard music, but worth listening to because it is so beautiful is Nina Simone. Always more Nina Simone.
posted by history is a weapon at 4:09 AM on September 26, 2013


On the country side of things, there is no one more melancholy than Merle Haggard. Add Vern Gosdin to the mix.
posted by megatherium at 4:14 AM on September 26, 2013


Slowdive?
posted by gaspode at 4:15 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Galaxie 500
posted by sriracha at 4:17 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


The entire American Music Catalog, I'd start with Mercury. Caution, consuming American Music Club with other suggestions in this thread may induce a feeling of profound hopelessness, please use with caution.
posted by nulledge at 4:26 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Jose Gonzales' new band Junip
posted by BAKERSFIELD! at 4:41 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Father John Misty, Mazzy Starr
posted by KogeLiz at 4:52 AM on September 26, 2013


megatherium: " there is no one more melancholy than Merle Haggard."

Seconding the Hag, but the ultimate sad bastard in a country vein is Townes Van Zandt. When he's at his nadir, you gotta pull off the road.
My days, they are the highway kind
They only come to leave
But the leavin' I don't mind
It's the comin' that I crave.
...
You're the only one I want now
I never heard your name.
Let's hope we meet some day
If we don't it's all the same.
I'll meet the ones between us,
And be thinkin' 'bout you
And all the places I have seen
And why you where not there.
posted by notsnot at 5:16 AM on September 26, 2013


The Cure.
Choose anything from their catalog, but Pornography, Disintegration, and Blood Flowers are central to their oeuvre.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 5:33 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Elliot Smith
posted by baniak at 5:45 AM on September 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have a bit of a liking for instrumental stuff: Johann Johanson's Fordlandia, Stars of The Lid's "The Tired Sounds of..." etc. I find that a majestic soundscape is great for making one feel small and getting that down feeling. YMMV.
posted by longbaugh at 6:01 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd second the Junip and Tindersticks recommendations and add a more recent Tindersticks track, Chocolate, off their most recent album. If that doesn't whirl you off into a bittersweet melancholy world of bedsits, cigarette smoke, crushed velvet upholstery, and sadly unrealized desires, nothing will.

There's also Kristin Hersh, particularly her more obviously Nick Drake-influenced albums The Grotto and Strange Angels, and of course Hips and Makers. Her upcoming release Spark Meet Gasoline (still in the form of online demos) looks like it'll be a keeper in this respect as well ...
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:06 AM on September 26, 2013


The School is twee pop in the same vein as The Softies.
posted by Piano Raptor at 6:08 AM on September 26, 2013


Social Distortion
posted by barnoley at 6:17 AM on September 26, 2013


Bill Callahan.
posted by Mender at 6:24 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Beach house, bloom album
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:34 AM on September 26, 2013


The Tindersticks
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:37 AM on September 26, 2013


I used to listen to the Wrens in just this way. I love all of their stuff, but Meadowlands made it into heavy late-night alone rotation. Sample: She Sends Kisses.
posted by *s at 6:44 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Crooked Fingers. Definitely sad bastard music, but it's not mopey sad bastard music. There's a suspicion running through the whole catalog that it might by your own damn fault, but very little tendency towards self-pity. Example. Classic example.
posted by valkyryn at 6:47 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Joni Mitchell's Blue is basically a genderswapped Nick Drake album.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 6:48 AM on September 26, 2013 [3 favorites]


Malcom Middleton's Ballad of Fuck All?
posted by hanov3r at 7:02 AM on September 26, 2013


Nick Cave's And No More Shall We Part (here's a song)
Emmylou Harris's Wrecking Ball (again, a song from the album)
Over The Rhine's Good Dog Bad Dog (a song) and Ohio (a song)
posted by gauche at 7:03 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't even listen to Elliot Smith without wanting to die.

I might be alone here, but I find Fleet Foxes produces a really sad and isolated feeling. Friends of mine think that's crazy, but see for yourself.

Of course there's also Beck's "Sea Change." And in the Beck vein, one weekend I just wanted to throw myself off a bridge and listened to just the song "Whiskeyclone, Hotel City 1997" (Beck, Mellow Gold) on repeat for two days straight.

Someone above mentioned the Cure and some albums -- I'd like to add "Wish" to that list. Completely depressing (in a tortured, lovesick way) except for "Friday I'm in Love."
posted by RingerChopChop at 7:13 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dirty Three! They also did an In the Fishtank album with Low, who are amazing and pipeski recommended them above.
posted by a halcyon day at 7:32 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


:deep breath:

Elliott Smith
Jason Molina/Songs: Ohia
Will Johnson/Centro-matic
David Bazan/Pedro the Lion
Arab Strap/Aidan Moffat/Malcolm Middleton
Pernice Brothers/Joe Pernice
Clem Snide/Eef Barzelay
Smog/Bill Callahan
Dolorean
Vetiver
The National
Tindersticks
Bad Books
Radar Bros.
Shearwater
Lullaby for the Working Class (buy all of their albums, OK? just do it)
The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby Sellers (ditto)
David Mead
Lou Barlow
Skating Club
Adem
Christine Fellows
John K. Samson
Tom McRae
Great Lake Swimmers
Azure Ray
Bryan John Appleby
Sharon Van Etten
Jolie Holland
Damien Jurado
Hayden

If you would like specific album/song recommendations, MeMail me! Sad bastard music is my bread and butter; collecting it is my life's work.
posted by divined by radio at 7:32 AM on September 26, 2013 [16 favorites]


If you're going for a particularly apocalyptic bent, you could listen to this Godspeed You! Black Emperor album, or some of their other work; Dead Flag Blues is one of my favourites.

GY!BE also allows live recordings of their shows, so there are many on archive.org as well.
posted by a halcyon day at 7:34 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nick Cave of course! The Weeping Song, anything from Murder Ballads, anything with his voice in it pretty much.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 7:36 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dear god, I forgot my favorite band. Please forgive them for their terrible name: Frontier Ruckus.

Examples: Dark Autumn Hour, Springterror, Junk-Drawer Sorrow, The Blood.
posted by divined by radio at 7:39 AM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


+1 for American Music Club, and anything by Mark Eitzel for that matter. San Francisco may be one of the most satisfyingly hopeless albums I've ever listened to.

Sufjan Steven's Come On Feel the Illinoise is wonderfully depressing and may even bring a tear to your eye.

The Notwist's Neon Golden is beautifully bleak and pack with crippling ennui. Perfect!

I'm sure I could find a few dozen more if I went through my iTunes catalog.
posted by slogger at 7:57 AM on September 26, 2013


And oh yes, Bonny Prince Billy's I See A Darkness is a suicide-inducing masterpiece.
posted by slogger at 8:00 AM on September 26, 2013


Man, so many good answers already! I'd add Jeff Buckley, Cat Power, M Ward, some Sufjan Stevens, Slowdive, Mojave 3. You might also explore allmusic.com's list of "sadcore" artists.
posted by aka burlap at 8:04 AM on September 26, 2013




How has no one said The Smiths?

Also: Mark Mulcahy.
posted by editorgrrl at 8:43 AM on September 26, 2013


Drunk
posted by snez at 8:46 AM on September 26, 2013


Gillian Welch
posted by entropicamericana at 8:49 AM on September 26, 2013


The Apartments - Mr. Somewhere

Nikki Sudden - Death is Hanging Over Me

Most of The Apartments catalog is sad bastard music.
posted by perhapses at 9:14 AM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Moby's "Inside" is a beautiful, mournful, instrumental piece that always makes me weak in the knees. If I think sad thoughts while this plays I invariably cry.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 9:20 AM on September 26, 2013


Okkervil River
posted by that's candlepin at 9:37 AM on September 26, 2013


Lucinda Williams.

Low.

Olafur Arnalds.
posted by baseballpajamas at 9:56 AM on September 26, 2013


Mark Lanegan is enigmatic and incredibly depressing both in his whiskey and cigarettes voice and often apocalyptic lyrical content.
posted by cnc at 10:11 AM on September 26, 2013


Hey, errbody, thanks for the many answers. So much to dig through! For clarification, it's true that I am personally probably looking for "Quiet, sometimes whispery, slightly twee folk/rock with clever lyrics and sometimes ornate orchestration made in the 90s/2000s/10s." GY!BE, for instance, is quite devastating, but perhaps more so than my notional idea of "sad bastard stuff". 808s & Heartbreak, while something I should investigate, may be a bit too chilly & electronic for me. (I find Clams Casino's instrumentals delightful, but don't really want to snuggle up next to them, so to speak.)

That said, I haven't much interest in stepping on folks' toes here, since everybody should enjoy being down in their own way, so if you think you have something in the right realm I'd still be glad to know about it.
posted by Going To Maine at 10:17 AM on September 26, 2013


Early Cowboy Junkies



Quiet Tom Waits
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:21 AM on September 26, 2013


Damon and Naomi.
posted by Annika Cicada at 10:22 AM on September 26, 2013


Or, for a change of pace, some Thomas Tallis.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 10:23 AM on September 26, 2013


You might try Perfume Genius. He's in the same vein as Bon Iver.
posted by cnc at 10:28 AM on September 26, 2013


I am personally probably looking for "Quiet, sometimes whispery, slightly twee folk/rock with clever lyrics and sometimes ornate orchestration made in the 90s/2000s/10s."

You want Jens Lekman
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 11:02 AM on September 26, 2013


Tiny Vipers
posted by Chenko at 11:13 AM on September 26, 2013


When I start feeling sad, melancholic, even depressed, I generally find myself listening to Harry Chapin without even realizing it.
posted by worldswalker at 12:11 PM on September 26, 2013


You have to listen to Damien Rice! He will depress you every time. Maybe too much! But beautiful.
posted by cornflakegirl at 12:31 PM on September 26, 2013


Happy is the soul not depressed by The Deep Dark Woods. They are spare, acoustic folk with lyrics that can only be described as deep and dark.
posted by snorkmaiden at 1:03 PM on September 26, 2013


Handsome Family
Neva Dinova
Neko Case's Canadian Amp album
posted by Rykey at 1:19 PM on September 26, 2013


Iron and Wine.
posted by chowflap at 1:50 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Northern Picture Library, which spun off from The Field Mice, and was followed up by Trembling Blue Stars.
posted by schoolgirl report at 2:08 PM on September 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Grandaddy has produced many songs about feeling alone and alienated, and express this through geographical metaphors for displacement and disorientation. They have three or four excellent albums. Very sad but also transcendent and some beautiful moments.

Spiritualized has at least one album - Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space - I know of that is about addiction and dependence and utter agony when those things (and people) are missing. You can read more about why that is on its Wikipedia page.

Keane is great for getting your 'woe is me' on, in a poppy way. Check out Hopes and Fears and Under the Iron Sea, if you haven't already.

Has someone mentioned Radiohead? Someone should mention Radiohead.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 3:07 PM on September 26, 2013




Nthing Low, José González (solo as well as with Junip), Elliott Smith. The earlier Elliott Smith records are more sparely produced.

Also, adding Julie Doiron and Ida.

Some Califone and Thiago Pethit fit, but not all.
posted by umbú at 6:40 PM on September 26, 2013


Also, I've always been fond of the recording Ruby Series by Rebecca Gates from the Spinanes, and I think it fits your criteria.
posted by umbú at 6:48 PM on September 26, 2013


Man, when it comes to sad bastard music, Richard Buckner is your friend.
posted by elmer benson at 7:30 PM on September 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Almost no one knows of Justin Rutledge, but he is one of the most morose singer-songwriters I know.

Among many others, Emily Returns is a masterpiece.
posted by yclipse at 8:00 PM on September 26, 2013


I also can't pass up a chance to recommend Reigning Sound's quieter stuff. Really sweetly sad garage-country kind of thing. And when you're in a rowdier mood, their rocking stuff is just grand, too.

Vic Chesnutt
posted by Rykey at 4:36 AM on September 27, 2013


Bright Eyes. A thousand times, Bright Eyes.
posted by madonna of the unloved at 1:18 PM on September 28, 2013


Tom Ovans
Lucinda Williams -- Sweet Old World
Lucinda Williams -- eponymous release
~~~~ the two above records by Williams were pretty much the Austin soundtrack for at least five years
Toni Price
Richard Buckner
Leonard Cohen
Cowboy Junkies
Joe Frank -- excerpts from a few of his shows
posted by dancestoblue at 10:58 PM on September 28, 2013


Arab strap - loch leven (skip to 2.30)
posted by Ned G at 7:54 AM on October 2, 2013


Your Softies makes me think of The Weepies.

Patty Griffin does it for me too.
Rain
When It Don't Come Easy
The Long Ride Home
posted by booth at 7:12 AM on October 9, 2013


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