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Slim Cessna's Auto Club, Help Desk, The American Dead

  • Frequency 121 West Main Street Madison, WI, 53703 United States (map)
Photo by Gary Isaacs.

Photo by Gary Isaacs.

The Denver band Slim Cessna's Auto Club, formed in 1992, play a vein of gothic Americana that stands head and shoulders above all manner of psychobilly and outlaw-country contemporaries, thanks to its fevered, hallucinatory sense of drama. Songs about violence and religious fanaticism out in the sticks can often come off as gimmicky tales told among smirking outsiders, but at Slim Cessna's take a more cinematic approach. At their best, they can make their characters' occult obsessions and bizarre visions feel dead serious and immersive, tinged with the fervor of punk and the creeping terror of the best psych-rock. In short, the difference between this stuff and your average rockabilly revivalist is like the difference between Harry Crews and Trailer Park Boys. Their current tour celebrates the reissue of one particularly fine example, the 2008 album Cipher. Sure, one can find plenty of cracked humor in a song like "All About The Bullfrog In Three Verses"—whose protagonist is apparently tormented by the sound of bullfrogs—but the song's dark, swirling atmosphere is tough to shake. The band's most recent album is 2016's  The Commandments According To Slim Cessna's Auto Club. —Scott Gordon