Album review: Johnny Dowd, Do the Gargon (Mother Jinx)
Album of the Week: A toe-tapping mix of tortured grooves and Texas boogie
For most of his curiously aberrant career, Johnny Dowd has trafficked in a form of outsider Americana which drew on noble antecedents while simultaneously subverting the roots expectations with bursts of atonal Beefheartian noise and pulp-fiction lyrics of grim gothic irony. So when Gargon, the antihero of this latest album, announces, “My misery with you I would love to share”, you tend to fear the worst.
But what's this? Gargon seems to be having fun, musically at least. “Gargon Gets All Biblical”, the track in question, turns out to be an eight-minute buzz-saw-guitar strut, striding along with the panache of his fellow Texans ZZ Top – though it's doubtful Billy Gibbons would essay a guitar line quite as tortured as that which Dowd scrawls across the song. But it's a groove, one unlike any Dowd has devised before, and without a whiff of country about it.
The earthy, funky tone continues with the predatory keyboard throb of “Shaquille”, the hapless Gargon recalling his visits to bar, barbershop and church, and the recurrent response he receives: “You smell like dust!”
Elsewhere, the heavily treated guitar and Fender Rhodes piano of “Gargon Knocks” brings to mind Bitches Brew, while “Gargon's Disco Balls” recalls Led Zeppelin's “Trampled Underfoot” riff, Dowd explaining the character's genesis in parental abandonment: “Gargon's balls hang like twin orbs in a fatherless sky... a motherless child abandoned in a filling station in the great state of Nebraska”. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for the poor chap, had you not just been exposed to the implications of the sinister “Girl in a Suitcase”.
What's certain about Do the Gargon is that there's nothing else around that sounds quite like this, with its febrile, feverish mix of Texas boogie, punk-metal and distorted jazz-funk. Dowd claims he'd been listening to a lot of Betty Davis and ZZ Top when he was recording it, which explains a lot, including the unexpectedly raffish good humour. “I think it's my most toe-tapping record so far,” he believes, and he's not wrong.
Download: Gargon Gets All Biblical; Shaquille; Gargon Knocks; Gargon's Disco Balls
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 Russian girl takes her own life after parents find pornography on her computer
- 3 Kim Kardashian on Bruce Jenner's 'story': 'We support him no matter what, and I think when the time is right, he'll talk'
- 4 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Game of Thrones: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' goes viral 35 years later
Churchill: The Nation's Farewell, TV review: Paxman reveals truth behind crane docker tribute, but delivers a fitting honour to Winston
Read Tom DeLonge's open letter about Blink 182 split: 'Our relationship got poisoned'
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia