Release Date: Jul 9, 2013
Record label: Sub Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
In early 1972, Johnny Cash strode into a dusty Southern recording studio and, in his iconic drawl, understatedly intoned the opening words of what would become his biggest hit: "Six foot six he stood on the ground, he weighed two-hundred-and-thirty-five pounds / But I saw that giant of a man brought down to his knees by love". Fast forward four decades and blur the lines of ‘love’ with ‘lust’, and Cash could have been describing country/electronic pioneer Daughn Gibson as portrayed on his second album, Me Moan. On his debut, former trucker Gibson carved himself a critically-acclaimed niche by fusing the sounds of Cash and his bolo-tie wearing contemporaries with the shuddering claustrophobia of bass-heavy dubstep acts from this side of the pond, all wrapped up in his haunting baritone croon.
In the hands of a lesser musician, Daughn Gibson's rich and cavernous baritone may have mutated into a Crash Test Dummies-esque gimmick on his underrated debut album, All Hell. Fortunately, the mysterious songs produced by this former truck driver, adult bookstore cashier, and Pearls and Brass drummer are underpinned by a semblance of genuineness. All Hell was a tar-black miasma of rainy highways, scuzzy biker bars, and sex-stained bed sheets.
Rock’n’roll is littered with men you wouldn’t be best pleased about bumping into down a dark alley. From Nick Cave and The Cramps’ late Lux Interior to Tom Waits and Josh Homme, all have, at certain points in their careers, succeeded in creating characters that terrified the living shit out of listeners as much as they’ve thrilled and enthralled. Daughn Gibson – the imposing alter ego of Carlisle, Pennsylvania’s Josh Martin, a one time truck-driver, adult bookstore worker and former member of stoner hardcore band Pearls And Brass – is the latest in this long line of dodgy dudes whose magnificently melancholy way with melody outweighs the collective creep factor of their sinister storytelling.
You'd have to be made of pretty stern stuff not to find Daughn Gibson's singing voice hilarious. His baritone rises from the bowels of the earth and careens each time it makes contact with the air; vowels slide from his mouth at such unexpected angles that his dense, detailed lyrics start to sound like abstract code. It's worth making the effort to decipher them, because Gibson is a striking storyteller, whether recounting sleazy afternoons at a dive bar (Kissin' on the Blacktop), dirty doings in the woods (The Pisgee Nest), or the helpless lament of a bereaved father who lost his wife's affection the day their child took his own life (Franco).
All Hell, the auspicious indie solo album of singer and songwriter Daughn Gibson (formerly the drummer of knotty heavy rock unit Pearls and Brass), with its meld of old-school country & western melodies with loops, samples, and ambient textures informed by acts from Burial to Demdike Stare to Vatican Shadow, caught listeners by surprise. Gibson's deep, resonant baritone singing voice crisscrosses the ages and suggests everyone from Lee Hazlewood and Johnny Cash to Dale Watson, early Scott Walker, and even Crash Test Dummies. More than his format and sound, however, Gibson proved he could write fine, well-crafted songs.
In 1987, Patrick Swayze starred in Dirty Dancing and a couple years later he swapped the leotard for Levi’s in Roadhouse. Both became cult classics and while the success of these pictures never inspired a project combining risqué rhythms with cowboy shenanigans, the synthesis is here in Daughn Gibson’s Me Moan. Although there are moments on the album that, despite its ambition, simply feel like fool’s gold, others—like the honky-tonk-slash-futura-disco of “Phantom Rider”—shine like veritable gold flakes.
Last year Daughn Gibson – real name Josh Martin (the pseudonym is a portmanteau of country singer Don Gibson and blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan) – released All Hell, a compelling amalgam of noirish blues and electronica that got him noticed by internet tastemakers. All Hell’s modest success led to a deal with Sub Pop; Me Moan is the first product of his union with the legendary Seattle label. Gibson’s music has been described as ‘trip-hop Americana’.
One thinks of identity whenever there’s any doubt about where one belongs or has been. To begin to understand Dauhgn Gibson’s conceptual framework requires this outlook, especially since the barren, transformative quality of his compositions are clearly defined with a sense of experience and acumen. The Carlisle, Pennsylvania arranger emotes with a skewed perception of reality, of splicing and deconstructing looped sound snippets that illustrate blurry landscapes in perpetual movement.
Having a voice like Daughn Gibson’s must be kind of a burden. It’s such a deep, sonorous, chesty thing that carrying it around must weigh on him, and every lyric feels like a bench press. It’s a physical gift that doubles as a restriction. When you’ve got the ability to conjure Johnny Cash or any other basso profundo like Gibson, your artistic direction is laid out for you-- you’re probably not gonna make punk or R&B.
Gibson's 2012 debut blended country baritone, dusty drum loops and wry tales of lonely people—a fitting sound for someone who used to drive long-haul trucks and work at an adult bookstore. Improbably, Me Moan is even stranger, doubling down on his ruggedness while contrasting it with heavy theatricality. Half his lines disappear into a twang so thick you might be tempted to laugh.
Daughn Gibson's 2012 debut album, All Hell, felt like it was recorded solely to bait David Lynch into making a film worthy of Gibson's eerily fascinating techno/country ballads on the soundtrack. The unnatural bedroom sample-tweaking paired with his freakishly deep baritone made a perfect twisted sense, evoking a depressed Johnny Cash robot from the future. For his highly anticipated follow-up, Gibson took a more conventional studio approach and worked with actual musicians rather than sliced up samples.
Daughn Gibson's first album, 2012's All Hell, re-engineered country noir with up-to-the-minute digitals, a mutant lily gilded by this Pennsylanian's crepuscular rumble. This follow-up finds the former trucker and metalhead crooning 11 more tales of perdition – such as The Pisgee Nest, about the policeman's daughter turning tricks at the behest of her boyfriend – whose unifying theme can best be summed up in the man's own words as "a swarm of bad". You Don't Fade sounds like trip hop if it were invented by Johnny Cash.
On his solo debut, All Hell, ex-Pearls and Brass drummer and walking voiceover Daughn Gibson flaunted a versatility for crafting unlikely arrangements around his booming baritone faux-drawl. Gibson – formerly a cross-country truck driver, roadie, and holder of the raunchiest janitorial gig imaginable – seems an unlikely authority on modern country at first listen, but All Hell successfully demonstrated just how futile first listens can be. Gibson asserts himself with picture-perfect evocations of remote highways at night: sometimes absolutely serene, sometimes eerie as hell, always tailor-fit with a one-of-a-kind sonic texture.
Sometimes I fantasize about becoming a truck driver. Yeah, I’m probably wrong to romanticize the job. I’m sure that it can be tiring, stressful, thankless. But part of me just can’t shake the notion that looking out the window of my truck’s cab while speeding through the vastness of this country — the sprawling hills, valleys, and plains; the massive metropolises and tiny towns; the thick forests and expansive deserts — would be an intensely rewarding, deeply affecting, and utterly American experience.
Daughn Gibson is Daughn pronounced to rhyme with forlorn and Gibson as in American retro futurist novelist William Gibson. And though this is no Neuromancer, Me Moan is a new kind of romance – a maudlin one from a dark but optimistic heart. Daughn, the man, for he is by all accounts a towering figure of one, has a heavy burr and a deep tone that is a richly pleasing amalgam of some of the best raconteurs of the dark arts – Nick Cave, Ian Curtis, Tom Waits, Dave Gahan and Julian Cope.Gibson, a troubadour from Carlisle, Pennsylvania was the drummer from a stoner rock group called Pearls and Brass but his balls of brass were such he wanted to be up front not trapped behind the traps.
Last year, Daughn Gibson and his brooding baritone struck the music industry with a new kind of niche that sounded like he’d dusted off old country records and heavily sampled them. Having secured critical acclaim for his debut album ‘All Hell’, it seems he’s firmly left his trucking past behind for good, as follow-up ‘Me Moan’ sees Gibson switching his genre-spanning samples up a gear, with a much more detailed and darker sound. Lead track and album opener ‘The Sound Of Law’ is a frantic three-minute mix of bold, tumbling percussion driven by his husky drawl, which seems to lead the theme for ‘Me Moan’: a bigger sound and richer arrangements but still with that crackly quality that made ‘All Hell’ so immersive.
When Pennsylvania resident and former truck driver Daughn Gibson stepped into the spotlight with last year’s debut All Hell, he presented a puzzling, pleasing set of contradictions. His songs made their home in the dank barrooms of blue-collar country music, but introduce 21st century looping and vocal sampling to the mix. Their melodies still have a lightness of touch that’s instantly accessible, but they hide dense layers of criss-crossing elements and sonic left-turns, demanding closer attention with each listen.
“Two characters in search of a country song/Just make believe, but so in love.” Stephin Merrit sang those words almost 20 years ago on the Magnetic Fields’ The Charm Of The Highway Strip, the quintessential electro-pop country goof-off album, and they remain as piercing as ever. Merrit’s winking masterpiece was undoubtably a product of the ’90s—ironic in its approach, earnest in its sentiments—but that hasn’t stopped the record from taking on its own warped legacy. Daughn Gibson’s Me Moan, the follow-up to 2012’s comparatively restrained All Hell, is cut from the same hobo-chic cloth as Merritt’s record but it’s more confident in its appropriations, more brazen in its affectations.
Timing can be treacherous. Daft Punk decided to trade samples and programming for live musicians, revisiting vintage funk styles in the studio, and released its album “Random Access Memories” just weeks before Pretty Lights revealed a similar metamorphosis on its new album, “A Color Map of ….
The way Daughn Gibson sings the phrase “state trooper’s daughter” on his new album is utterly bewildering. He sort of swallows the words, twisting them around like Johnny Cash with marbles in his mouth. Meanwhile, the music surrounding him is swampy, thick with what sounds like warped pedal steel and a rhythm section straight out of 1990s neo-soul.