Die Blonde’s dark and gritty debut EP comforts like a guilty pleasure. It feels almost sinful to relish the delectable gloominess of Novato so much. However, as I find myself devouring its potent five tracks, I can’t help but crave more.
Spawned from sibling songwriters Bob and May Wild, Die Blonde applies a soot-covered coating to traditional American roots music by implementing wicked themes and dark gothic undertones. Their album’s eerie Appalachian anthem rock is suited for a soundtrack somewhere between True Detective and O Brother Where Art Thou.
Novato’s sermon is led by the wailing guitar chords of “Lonely Road,” a psych-laced, classic rock track with strands of bluegrass DNA. Guitarist Neal Campbell’s 70’s-era howls succumb to the sibling vocalists’ murky harmonies as the haunting opener sets into the misty backwoods of the primal subconscious. The Wild’s swampy vocals parallel in perfect unison providing a raspberry contrast, both soft and sweet, sharp and sour. The devilish “Dirty Rotten Son” bounces with shuddering bluegrass, intimidating vocals and a hellfire guitar solo. Die Blonde soldiers on with the upbeat Americana and spacious harmonies of “LA & Nashville” before settling in with bluegrass stomper “The Moon”. The most enthralling portion of Novato comes in the intoxicating title track, a bloodlusty, psychedelic macabre of cruel intentions with sweeping instrumentals and bone-chilling vernacular.
Die Blonde’s shadowy interpretation of Americana stands out with Novato and the band makes their biggest impact when they deviate from the traditional genre tropes. Taking a nocturnal approach to the typically upbeat genre is a bold move that pays off dearly in Novato’s most intriguing moments. There’s a gripping reality within the songwriting that can be a little startling at first…if not slightly scary. I probably shouldn’t enjoy Die Blonde’s noir-Americana and seductive murder ballads so much. But, goddamn, does it feel good.
Photo by: Jun Cleveland @juntastic