Bad Folk
Bad Folk/Rats and People

"That Great Atomic Power Scared Charlie Louvin More than God" 7"
(self-released)"Saw a Circus" / "I Sang to Heather Nethereye" split 7"

11 p.m. Saturday, November 10. Mangia, 3145 South Grand Boulevard. Free. 314-664-8585.

Bad Folk excels at taking an antiquated form (acoustic folk music) and giving it modern relevance. Case in point: For the band's new, vinyl-only EP, singer and banjo player Tim Rakel examines the current political landscape by looking backward. "That Great Atomic Power Scared Charlie Louvin More than God" gives a thumbnail sketch of "the White House war machine" through the lens of the Louvin Brothers and their famous anti-war song "Atomic Power" (which most of us know from Uncle Tupelo's cover). Side two features a stirring cover of "The Band Played Waltzing Matilda," which tells of a soldier's disfiguration at the Battle of Gallipoli in 1915. The song, written by Eric Bogle and made into a standard by the Pogues, is imbued with a palpable sense of dread by the low, tribal drums and the sound of clanging sheet metal. Like "That Great Atomic Power," it's not much of a stretch to take these historical events and see their analogs in current newspaper headlines.

Following the hallowed tradition of the split seven-inch, Bad Folk pairs up with their like-minded (but different-sounding) pals in Rats and People. Bad Folk's "Saw a Circus" begins like a harsh breeze from the lonesome Western plains before Joey Gavin's pedal steel leads the band ramped-up dirge. Rats and People takes a jauntier approach to its twisted folktales, with Brien Seyle's adenoidal vocals being sweetened by the background vocals, glockenspiel flourishes and cornet blasts.

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