Dec 2012 24

King Dude - Burning DaylightKing Dude
Category: Neo-Folk / Goth
Album: Burning Daylight
Stars: 3.5
Blurb: Bittersweet and haunting, King Dude presents a darkly melodic vision of bluesy and atmospheric American Gothic.


King Dude’s name may sound like some too-cool-for-school rockabilly or surf rock concoction. However, this gothic dark folk entity produces a sound as chilling in its atmospheres as the rain swept Seattle streets from which the band hails. Drawing on the expansiveness of classic Americana, biblical references abound amid themes of love and death, making for a sound as decrepit and mournful as it is melodic and hopeful. The band’s latest release, Burning Daylight expands on 2011’s Love to make for a refined and more focused effort that evokes images of the deserted wastelands of the old west and downtrodden pioneers faced with the grim realities of the uncertain future.

Led by T.J. Cowgill, King Dude’s music is an exercise in stark minimalism and ghostly ambience, driven by guitars drenched in reverb, thunderous yet simplified percussion, and vocals that float like forgotten spirits. A galloping, almost tribal beat underscores “Holy Land” as crystalline strums of guitar and solemn baritone vocals resonate above, immediately creating a frigid and desolate soundscape. This continues through songs like “I’m Cold” with its bluesy melody, Cowgill’s voice taking on a ravenous and slithery tone, “Vision in Black” with its haunting lyrics and soaring reverb, and “My Mother Was the Moon” as a lighter, more feminine voice gives the song an eerier quality. Other songs like “Barbara Anne” and “Jesus in the Courtyard” show Cowgill reaching for notes much lower than the average baritone, giving his voice a cracked and tired quality befitting the decrepit ambience, while “Lorraine” sounds like sweet country lament one might expect to hear sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch staring at a grassy, sunny horizon. “You Can Break My Heart” croons like a ‘50s slow dancer with the surreal bleakness of a David Lynch film, while the album ends with “Lord, I’m Coming Home,” a tune as uplifting in its jangly acoustic guitar and upbeat rhythm as it is saddening in its melody and twinkling organs.

If Johnny Cash were to team up with Death in June and tried to channel the spirit of Tim Buckley, the result would be something akin to King Dude and the band’s particular brand of dark folk. Burning Daylight is likely to bring a few tears to the eyes and perhaps even instill a few nightmares as it plays like the soundtrack to some gothic western; nevertheless, the lyrics ring of a bygone era of American blues and folk music, the vocals and the atmosphere effectively conveying the heartbreak and emptiness of forgotten time. Burning Daylight is an emotional record to be sure, but listeners should be prepared for a bittersweet and harrowing experience.
Track list:

  1. Introduction
  2. Holy Land
  3. Barbara Anne
  4. I’m Cold
  5. Vision in Black
  6. Jesus in the Courtyard
  7. I Know You’re Mine
  8. My Mother Was the Moon
  9. Lorraine
  10. You Can Break My Heart
  11. Lord, I’m Coming Home

King Dude MySpace
King Dude Facebook
King Dude Bandcamp
Dais Records Website
Dais Records Facebook
Purchase at:
Amazon CD
Amazon MP3
Ilker Yücel (Ilker81x)

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