Release Date: Oct 16, 2012
Record label: Dais
You would think that during a time of natural disasters, economic uncertainty, and deep political divisions, we'd want a little less apocalypse in our pop culture. And yet apocalypse porn is more popular than ever. The Dark Knight Rises, The Walking Dead, Revolution, Justin Cronin's Passage books-- our primal need to envision and confront the way the world ends continues to be fed by expensive, slickly produced, even rousing commercial entertainments.
Sorry brosephs, this King Dude’s not here to rule the butt-chugging masses—he’s too busy spinning fire ‘n’ brimstone tales of dark, gothic Americana on his second LP, Burning Daylight. Unlike, say, Sixteen Horsepower’s David Eugene Edwards, though, who pounds a similar pulpit, King Dude (née T.J. Cowgill) is more a chronicler of doom and gloom than a proselytizer trying to save souls.
Seattleite TJ Cowgill, a.k.a. King Dude, sings in a certain dry-throated, baritone groan that the term “deathly” can’t even do justice. “Hyper-ominous” would be closer, though on his latest effort Burning Daylight, it occasionally ranges from something like Johnny Cash with an electrolarynx to something like Tom Waits after inhaling a helium balloon.
When does homage cross the border into pastiche? When does inspiration curdle into derivation? Now that the time-honored pop-crit values of “originality” and “authenticity” have been so thoroughly debunked by a generation of deconstructionist pop music historians, what is left to say about music that is utterly and completely indebted to the work of another artist? Questions like these come to mind when listening to the new album by King Dude, the dark folk project of T. J. Cowgill, proprietor of witch-house apparel label Actual Pain and frontman for Seattle’s death metal outfit Book of the Black Earth.