Grimdark Folkies
January 15, 2019 6:56 PM   Subscribe

It's a rainy night in Long Beach, and I'm looking for more music like the albums Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen or To Bring You My Love by PJ Harvey -- or songs like "Masters of War" by Bob Dylan, or "Needle in the Hay" by Elliott Smith. Bum me out please!
posted by pH Indicating Socks to Media & Arts (45 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Colour Green by Sibylle Baier?
posted by trotzdem_kunst at 7:01 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Night After Night by Laura Marling
posted by ZabeLeeZoo at 7:18 PM on January 15, 2019

Find yourself a Songs: Ohia playlist on YouTube.
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:19 PM on January 15, 2019 [4 favorites]

Vic Chesnutt - I've Flirted With You All My Life might fit the bill. It's slightly more upbeat, perhaps, but it's very much about death, so. Grim!

Springsteen's '95 album The Ghost of Tom Joad the other one that's most similar to Nebraska, and is mostly pretty dark songs and stories — Galveston Bay is one of my favorites, about a Vietnamese immigrant to the gulf in Texas, and his experience with the Klan. The whole album is worth your time.
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:20 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Taneytown by Steve Earle
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:21 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

You might want Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst?

Sunrise, Sunset

At the Bottom of Everything

First Day of My Life

Conor Oberst - No One Changes
posted by vers at 7:24 PM on January 15, 2019

Seconding Johnny Wallflower: Steve Earle. Try "Oxycontin Blues," "CCKMP," and "Rake."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:44 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Handsome Family are a rich source of this sort of thing. Far From any Road.

I discovered them through a cover of one of their songs recorded by the Mekons' Sally Timms, also a rich vein to mine. Dark Sun.

Or, you know, you could just throw on a stone cold classic LP like Neil Young's On the Beach. Revolution Blues.

Properly paced, by the end of the evening you can work your way up to Townes Van Zandt.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:45 PM on January 15, 2019 [5 favorites]

Jason Isbell has some real bummers!
Speed Trap Town
posted by wemayfreeze at 7:46 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Yes, Jason Isbell's a good pick, too. Songs That She Sang in the Shower.
posted by Nerd of the North at 7:50 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Seconding Songs: Ohia as well as Jason Molina's follow up band Magnolia Electric Company. Jason Molina's music is a deep, dark rabbit hole of grimdark folkie sad that only ended when he intentionally drank himself to death.

Try Don't This Look Like the Dark or Whip Poor Will.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 8:13 PM on January 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

Rhiannon Giddens’ Julie.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:18 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Definitely add Richard Buckner, especially The Hill -- a musical setting of poems from Edgar Lee Masters' Spoon River Anthology. If you're unfamiliar with the poems, they're written from the point of view of people who have already died, often in harsh or tragic circumstances. The music ranges from growly to quietly contemplative.

Example: "Amanda Barker" (an official video of a live performance). The album isn't officially on youtube but here's The Hill on Spotify.

A lot of others might qualify from his other albums. Example: "Boys, the Night Will Bury You" (from Since). You might also want to work through the tracks of Devotion + Doubt, esp. "Fater" or "On Travelling."
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 8:24 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

You might enjoy Leave the Radio On, by Fernando Viciconte.
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 8:35 PM on January 15, 2019

Genesis Hall, by Fairport Convention. Quite a few songs by Fairport Convention and its alums Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson have this quality.
posted by JonJacky at 9:03 PM on January 15, 2019

16 Horsepower .

Plot twist- it's grimdark CHRISTIAN Americana. The songwriter actually believes the dark is real. There's a great documentary on YouTube in which he explores how he got there and the weird contradictions in all that.
posted by twoplussix at 9:40 PM on January 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Americana in general is the genre some of these things fall into. My joke when describing it is "like folk or country, but whinier and with more Satan"
posted by twoplussix at 9:55 PM on January 15, 2019

Carbon Leaf, The Road Is Breaking My Heart.
posted by TwoStride at 10:43 PM on January 15, 2019

The Quiet Joys of Brotherhood by Richard and Mimi Farina.
posted by mcgordonliddy at 10:44 PM on January 15, 2019

nthing Songs: Ohia, and maybe check out some Gillian Welch, such as The Way It Goes or April the 14th, Part 1.
posted by egregious theorem at 11:47 PM on January 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads?
posted by Artw at 12:01 AM on January 16, 2019 [3 favorites]

Bill Callahan (aka Smog) - A River Ain’t too Much to Love
Cat Power - You Are Free
posted by aiglet at 12:23 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

I know you already said Bob Dylan's Masters of War, but I really love this cover of it by Pearl Jam back in '92.
posted by kuanes at 4:08 AM on January 16, 2019

Mary Chapin Carpenter’s 10,000 Miles has this quality. She mentioned styling it after fado.

Bonnie Raitt & John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery hits this note for me as well.
posted by childofTethys at 5:25 AM on January 16, 2019

I'd second Aiglet on Cat Power, but especially Moon Pix, which I don't really listen to anymore because it gets me into such a particular mood.
posted by ITheCosmos at 5:41 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

Maybe angrier than you like but some of my favorites:
Country Life by Show of Hands (Steve Knightley)
Needle of Death by Bert Jansch
Bold Marauder by Ian and Sylvia
posted by Botanizer at 6:18 AM on January 16, 2019

Emma Ruth Rundle might fit the bill, especially Marked for Death.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:20 AM on January 16, 2019

I wonder if you'd like some of Aimee Mann's folkier albums -- I'd first recommend you "Mental Illness" (just won the Grammy for best folk last year!) and then perhaps "Smilers" if you like that.
posted by fiercecupcake at 6:54 AM on January 16, 2019

ooh, Mark Lanegan is good at this stuff, too. His whole "Blues Funeral" album is delicious, including The Gravedigger's Song and Burning Jacob's Ladder.
posted by jillithd at 7:27 AM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might need some Marissa Nadler in your life.
posted by pipeski at 8:15 AM on January 16, 2019

Honeyhoney's Angel of Death
posted by PussKillian at 8:33 AM on January 16, 2019

violent femmes country death song
posted by 20 year lurk at 9:19 AM on January 16, 2019 [2 favorites]

If you'd like to travel back a few decades, Gordon Lightfoot's chilling [true] tale of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald and Simon and Garfunkel's The Sound of Silence might find a place in your playlist of grim darkies.
posted by Gino on the Meta at 10:13 AM on January 16, 2019

Boxharp's album The Tailored Soldier is right on the sweet spot for this. Church in Calhoun for example.
posted by merocet at 10:48 AM on January 16, 2019

Hayden’s album Everything I Long For. The song Skates is especially chilling.
posted by ejs at 11:07 AM on January 16, 2019

Chris Wood's "Hollow Point" or "Spitfires" or "None The Wiser" or or or...

Richard Shindell's "You Stay Here" or "Fishing".

Karine Polwart's "Whaur Dae Ye Lie?".

Brian McNeill's "How The Foreign Winds Do Blow".

John Prine's "Sam Stone" as covered by Laura Cantrell.

Dave Carter and Tracy Grammer's "When I Go".

Or if you're around Broughty Ferry on a Thursday night, come down to the Fisherman's Tavern and ask the session for their best driech.
posted by offog at 12:43 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

offog's comment reminded me of another Richard Shindell song: his cover of Springsteen's "Born in the U.S.A." Grim, dark, and folkie; it made me hear this old song for the first time.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:37 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

16 Horsepower

Good call. Edwards has a new band called Wovenhand/Woven Hand that fits the bill pretty well too.
posted by turbid dahlia at 1:58 PM on January 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

Love Will Tear Us Apart by June Tabor and The Oyster Band. Maximum grimdark folkiness. And a big +1 to Chris Wood's Hollow Point mentioned above - I remember seeing him perform this in concert at a little folk club when he first started singing it and the feeling of cold shock when I realised what he was singing about has stayed with me to this day.
posted by Martha My Dear Prudence at 2:07 PM on January 16, 2019

If you want to go back a little while, check out People Take Warning! Murder Ballads and Disaster Songs, 1913-1938. It's a very well-curated 3-cd compilation of prewar music, and it's nothing but trainwrecks and mine explosions and murder ballads. A couple samples: Carson Robinson Trio - The Porto Rico Storm, Ernest Stoneman - Kenney Wagner's Surrender, William & Versey Smith - When That Great Ship Went Down.
posted by box at 5:35 AM on January 17, 2019

Came here to recommend murder ballads! Not specifically the Nick Cave album, but the genre. My personal favorite is The Ballad of Hollis Brown.
posted by lunasol at 11:01 AM on January 17, 2019

Don Walker's song Pool (Major) nails this. Last song on that album. All of his work is worth checking out.

The unfortunately recently late and of the Bad Seeds, Conway Savage's solo work is worth checking out here too. As opposed to rain though it tends to ooze "it's 40 degrees (proper degrees, not fahrenheits) and I can't be fucked". It creeps up on you, it's good stuff.
posted by deadwax at 4:42 PM on January 20, 2019

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