Dust Bowl Faeries – Carnival Dust EP
With dark lilting melodies that will remind one of the compositions of Brecht-Weil — the deviant cabaret/German carnival burlesque type Three Penny Opera music. They glide close to Tom Waits’ excursions (“Rain Dogs,” “Swordfish Trombones,” “Frank’s Wild Years,” & “The Black Rider”).
The Dust Bowl Faeries take a page from the equally compelling Tiger Lillies (“Hell”) featured ambitiously in the film “Plunkett & Maclean.” While that vocalist’s searing singing has a tint of madness it’s more acute than The Dust Bowl Faeries showcase.
There is nonetheless a commercial appeal in the haunting beauty of “The Changeling.” They still need to get edgier in their repertoire if they wish to maintain interest. Pop the clutch a little, get a little more jarring since they are traversing these paths anyway. Their effort however is admirable. Tragic characters need to be added – watch the HBO mini-series “Carnivale,” to get the right personality aura. “Medicine Show,” is potent in this manner. You can almost smell the gas lamps in the street & the absinthe being poured. The band is entertaining & they have character.
The creepy accordion is exceptional as a soundscape, & the acoustic guitar sneaks in with a coat of gloss. It keeps the band from sounding predictable. The lyrics still need some clever reworking to be as competent as the melodies & the melodies do have superb arrangements.
However, the words require a more German-expressionist stab. The vocals have the tone for such a script. While the music is sufficiently dark & noirish the tales aren’t yet as challenging as Brecht-Weill’s beautiful melodies telling terrible stories (“Mack the Knife”). This is the secret to this kind of showcase. Tom Waits gets it, Clear Light did too (“Mr. Blue”) & the band The Nails (“Darkness Comes Uncivilized”).
Other than that, it’s a group that’s deserving. This 28-minute, 6-cut EP Carnival Dust (Drops Jan. 24-Dust Bowl Faeries Records) is a good collection. This upstate New York unit has its necessary ingredients balanced, its gypsy flavor melodies charged, black & white noir atmosphere, sepia tonalities, & a female lead mindful of Pal Shazar (Slow Children – “President I Am”). Dust Bowl is just not as danceable. So what?
The creativity’s well-manicured & all tunes sound theatric without being overly dramatic. There’s nothing “punk” about this group – all the music is derived from 1920s expressionism & impressionism. They give the woes an inescapable external presence (“Lost In Time”). Quite intense & well-performed. Intriguing chord changes as well & applicable to a theatrical play or film soundtrack (which they’ve done).
Highlights – All 6 tunes are interesting with “Cuckoo,” & “Lost In Time” exceptional.
Musicians – Ryder Cooley (accordion/saw/lead vocals), Jon B. Woodin (guitar/vocals), Rubi LaRue (lap steel/vocals), Liz LoGiudice (bass/vocals) & Andrew Stein (drums/percussion).
Image courtesy of Stephen Spera. CD @ https://rydercooley.bandcamp.com/track/lost-in-time-single & https://www.dustbowlfaeries.com/