King Dude
Not Just Religious Music
Street: 05.06
King Dude = Death In June + Social Distortion + American Recordings–era Johnny Cash

TJ Cowgill, aka King Dude, caught my attention with 2011’s Love, a spacious pagan folk record examining themes of death, nature and Lucifer’s light. Now, joined by drummer Joey D’Auria and session musicians, Cowgill supplements Americana and Brit-folk explorations of existential fear and imminent demise with a completely unexpected musical mode—punk rock n’ roll. At first, it’s pretty weird, and I favor songs such as “Bloody Mirror,” which recalls the stark sound of 2012’s Burning Daylight. In songs like “Cloven Hooves of Fear,” though, it’s as if Cowgill’s trying to slip his own gospel of Lucifer into the mainstream. The stirring alt-country highlight “Never Run” shows Cowgill branching out vocally and the feeling continues in the album closer “Watching Over You,” with weeping violin and a sing-along-chorus of “Know that a demon’s watching over you.” Although I prefer prior records, Fear still works magic—Luciferianism has never sounded so normal. –Cody Kirkland