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Monday 5 December 2016

Daughn Gibson

Daughn Gibson once drove a truck for a living. That's cool. So did Elvis Presley.

Daughn was Josh Martin then. He had a thing going for a while as drummer with Pearls and Brass. That was in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

I don't remember Nazareth. However, I do remember nearby Bethlehem. I once spent a night or two in a motel there. But, this isn't a travel or crime feature so let's move on.

Daughn's last album, Me Moan, his debut on Sub Pop, grabbed attention. Mainly because Daughn could sing real low, like deep down. Adding to the attraction was the dude's ear for rhythm. He still knows where to locate the groove's sweet spot. Me Moan evoked life in an old motel, its walls all brown and orange, its carpets slightly sticky underfoot. Not just Heartbreak Hotel. Despair too was on the menu.

The man hasn't lightened up. He's still mastering the crashing tremolo guitar twang that once helped Chris Isaak catch a break. And he still weaves his beats and beaten-up baritone into a set of potent post-apocalypse sock-hop knee-tremblers.

He hasn't quite ditched his 70s stoner rock fixation. Weird sonic ectoplasm seeps through. A whiff of Jethro Tull from the riffage on For Every Bite, which otherwise might owe its corn to a Depeche Mode infatuation.

It's not just for the Scott Walker register that Gibson has being picking up admirers.

His murky melange of sub-bass synths and guitars from hell's waiting room has an intoxicating allure.

Gibson's hypnotic growl allows detail to slide by before you might grasp its meaning. Shine of the Night rattles along nicely but he's singing about life on Basra highway.

And death among "the ancient sand". It's the most impressionistic song about the Iraq conflict zone since Brucie's Devils & Dust.

In a world where The National and The Antlers are rightly appreciated, Gibson and friends are worthy of a much wider audience. Bled To Death is a curious mix of choral and country before a dying man bleats the lament: "I guess after all this time, I don't want to go back to life."

Daughn's people are happy to name drop Raymond Carver and John Waters among the cultural signifiers for this album. But Gibson can shoulder the weight.

The confident first single, Shatter You Through, makes the most of his expanding musical palette, holding the attention with electronic bleeps and Nashville guitar. And that's before he croons like Roxy Music's Bryan Ferry on A Rope Ain't Enough.

HHHHI

(Sub Pop)

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