By Andrew Hertzberg
Dastardly have been putting out consistently depressing music for a few years now, but never has it been this somber and completely despairing. Not that Bury Me in the Country is a hopeful EP, but Gabe Liebowitz at least still sang with energy, even urgency, instead of full on mournful sentimentality. But its certainly a more clear-headed album. Slower tempos take over this album, each of the four songs exhibiting a near existential breakdown, if not a full embrace of it.
Each song seems to rely on one key component to translate its own unique desperation. "Sentimental Blue" reminds me of a human "Bein' Green", but without the catharsis. While carnivalesque sounds that end up in yodeling may sound off-putting to some, well, it works in "So Long Caroline." The slide guitar in "From the Water" creates an otherworldly effect as Gabe laments (as he’s wont to do) the beautiful women that pass him by. And then there’s the climax, the chorus of "Blue Dreams" that includes members from a bunch of local groups including Archie Powell and the Exports, Santah, Hemmingbirds, Paper Thick Walls, the Shams Band and more. The song dissolves into noise and chaos and a dark unpleasant feeling just to contradict the dark pleasant mood that lived in the album beforehand.
The record overall relies on the traditional Americana, folk rock Dastardly has become known for, embracing a more sober look on how depressing reality can be as opposed to a belligerent one. That’s not to say they’re done embracing the latter. Celebrate how far Gabe and co. have come at a double set at Schubas Thursday, August 30th (9 PM, 18+, $10). Each ticket purchased ahead of time is good for two people, a perfect way to introduce your morose friend to their new favorite band.
Ballads in Blue is currently streaming on Dastardly's bandcamp.