by Gerry Mak in New Music on Wednesday 2 September 2009

A lot of horror lies buried in the American landscape, and the nation’s music, since long before the time of Charlie Poole and Leadbelly, has often dealt with themes of death, murder, war, and the occult. It’s funny then that people should be so jarred by bands like Those Poor Bastards, who, drawing from bluegrass and old time music, create menacing, sinister, gothic country. A natural extension of the murder ballad tradition, the Wisconsin-based outfit incorporates sounds and ideas from more contemporary dark genres and acts — metal, industrial, Nick Cave, and Tom Waits — making music that sounds a bit like a zombie Johnny Cash in a top-hat.