More spooky, ethereal (desert) rock to write to?
July 3, 2014 2:37 PM   Subscribe

More spooky, ethereal (desert) rock to write to?

I always write to music. Over the years, you guys have been so incredible helping me discover new songs and artists for each book's playlist. Thank you!

Now I need you again. Looks like the next two books I'm contracted to write will take place in the desert: a YA novel in the haunting/haunted red rocks Southwest; and a middle-grade novel in the desolate, apocalyptic Salton Sea area. The first will be a sequel to this book (which finally sold, hooray!). Both are dark, moody, speculative, spooky, poignant (and sexy -- the YA, not the middle-grade, ha) and I'm looking for playlists to match. Ambient or vocals are both okay, but nothing grating or too loud/metallic.

Examples along the lines of what I'm seeking: Dry & Dusty by Fever Ray, Amarillo by Gorillaz, Intro by the xx, Canvas by Imogen Heap, Blank Pages by the Album Leaf.

Thanks again!
posted by changeling to Media & Arts (36 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
Other Lives.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:43 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh man do I have the album for you: Slim Westerns, by A Small Good Thing. Example songs: Drowning Light, Hole in the Heart, Someplace South of Here.
posted by googly at 2:52 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Pretty much all of the Daniel Lanois discography, but in particular, the 3 volume Omni Series.
posted by davebush at 3:03 PM on July 3, 2014

Something by Calexico (maybe not this one, but something) must surely fit the bill. Pandora used to serve me a song from a later album that was more on the ethereal side (as opposed to spaghetti western), but I don't have a clue which one.
posted by LionIndex at 3:14 PM on July 3, 2014 [3 favorites]

Might be a bit more country than what you're looking for, but The Handsome Family definitely has the spooky-Southwest vibe.
posted by WidgetAlley at 3:25 PM on July 3, 2014

Friends of Dean Martinez, the band includes members of Calexico

Also, the spaghetti western original--Ennio Morricone.
Morricone's use of decidedly nonorchestral “instruments” (coyote howls, whip cracks) as one possibility, a practice that began with “A Fistful of Dollars” and helped revolutionize the western soundtrack.
He passed some painters on the street, as the painter was opening his extension ladder. Morricone was transfixed by the unearthly shriek as the ladder slid open, and he demanded that the painter bring the ladder and accompany him to the recording studio, where Morricone could capture the sound.
posted by ohshenandoah at 3:29 PM on July 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I have a playlist of just this type of stuff but I'm not near a computer to get to it. Califone is all I remember off the top of my head.
posted by tofu_crouton at 4:38 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thin White Rope and The Meat Puppets would seem to fit the bill.
posted by DaddyNewt at 4:38 PM on July 3, 2014

I6 Horsepower and any of the spin-off bands (Wovenhand, David Eugene Edwards, Lilium, etc.)

Slim Cesnaa's Autoclub

I'd also go weird and consider Fields of the Nephlim.
posted by cjorgensen at 4:49 PM on July 3, 2014

My Brightest Diamond (vocals)

Lali Puna (vocals)

Tortoise (instrumental)

Labradford (ambient instrumental)
posted by John Cohen at 5:31 PM on July 3, 2014

seconding Meat Puppets
posted by j_curiouser at 6:46 PM on July 3, 2014

Seconding Calexico. Also, how about "Rome," by Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi?
posted by wintersweet at 6:46 PM on July 3, 2014

Seconding Califone.

Tone (here's their YouTube channel, which is just a few live videos, their studio work is more ethereal.)

Digging way back, try some Savage Republic (Although I should note that some of their stuff can get pretty raucous, so you might have to pick and choose songs.)
posted by soundguy99 at 6:50 PM on July 3, 2014

+1 to Daniel Lanois. Belladonna is another good one.
posted by rhymes with carrots at 7:00 PM on July 3, 2014

Earth - Hex

Los Natas - Toba Trance
posted by medeine at 7:25 PM on July 3, 2014

Good lord, nthing Calexico. Their later albums are a bit more poppy, but the albums, b-sides, and tour-only LPs up to Feast of Wire all have tons of windswept, dessicated music. There's always an air of something...lost.

"Missing" and "El Morro" play through my mind at least weekly.
posted by notsnot at 7:48 PM on July 3, 2014 [1 favorite]

I say Sonic Youth's Bad Moon Rising album.
posted by mustard seeds at 8:00 PM on July 3, 2014

Best answer: I'm making a spotify playlist of the suggestions. It's called AskMefi Etheral Desert Rock.

If anyone knows how to make a spotify playlist collaborative using the web player, please let me know!
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:07 PM on July 3, 2014 [2 favorites]

Nevermind, I just downloaded the app onto this computer because the web app is infernal.
posted by tofu_crouton at 8:13 PM on July 3, 2014

Bruce Licher of Savage Republic went on to found the instrumental band Scenic, who are the absolute epitome of atmospheric desert landscape music. I can highly recommend Acquatica and Incident at Cima. Licher also runs the superb Independent Project Press, hence the exquisite album art on every release. He has some fine tracks on his soundcloud. Scenic also played with Lanterna, another proto-space rock outfit ('Ambient Americana'). Big, open sky instrumentals.
posted by srednivashtar at 4:53 AM on July 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Teeth of the Sea, The Island Is.
Labradford, El Lago.
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:17 AM on July 4, 2014

Lost Weekend by Wall of Voodoo. Actually, a lot of their stuff has a haunted, car driving alone at night through the American southwest feel to it.
posted by maxsparber at 9:41 AM on July 4, 2014

ohshenandoah beat me to suggesting Friends of Dean Martinez so I'll just have to chime in with a 'seconded!' right now. It's the first thing that came to mind.
posted by komara at 12:50 PM on July 4, 2014

Tulsa Drone.
posted by fake at 12:58 PM on July 4, 2014

Timbre Timbre's entire discography
posted by tofu_crouton at 1:22 PM on July 4, 2014

Rain Tree Crow
posted by svenvog at 1:36 PM on July 4, 2014

Black Heart Procession (notably the album Two), Shearwater (Palo Santo is best I think), m83 (Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts is the most accessible for this but I think Before the Dawn Heals Us is a way darker, more effecting record).
posted by sweltering at 8:22 PM on July 4, 2014

Filthy Huns. This is probably the best track but the whole album is pretty good - and is on Spotify.
posted by treblekicker at 1:56 AM on July 5, 2014

Neverending White Lights. The Warning is the song that got me hooked on them, and a lot of their other stuff - especially first and second albums - sound perfect for what you're after.

I was working on something that sounds similar and found Peter Gabriel's Passion on heavy rotation.

The Cure; Lullaby sprang to mind instantly but it's the Cure, so dark, moody and speculative is pretty much one of their main themes.

And try School of Seven Bells. iamundernodisguise is both ethereal and not and kind of spooky. You might like their other stuff too.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:01 AM on July 5, 2014

The album "Ghosts of the Great Highway" by Sun Kil Moon.
posted by jbickers at 6:33 AM on July 5, 2014

posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:08 AM on July 5, 2014

And literally any song by the Growlers.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:12 AM on July 5, 2014

Response by poster: thank you all so much! can't wait for a good, long, spooky listen this week.
posted by changeling at 8:13 AM on July 6, 2014

Ooh! The Longest Road by Morgan Page.
posted by sigmagalator at 7:14 PM on July 7, 2014

Somehow I hadn't listened to the Album Leaf song you linked to. If you like that, you must try Sigur Rós/Jónsi and Alex. Particularly Takk for the ethereal and Agætis Byrjun for the somewhat darker. Jónsi and Alex is a side project - same singer from Sigur Rós but if anything even more ethereal. Riceboy Sleeps in its entirety.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:51 AM on July 8, 2014

And thanks so much, btw. I suspect I may be completely hooked on The Album Leaf.
posted by Athanassiel at 12:52 AM on July 8, 2014

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