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.
Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o The Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. Email [email protected] for more information.