Exploring Gothic Country's Darkest Corners

Tuesday's Pick

  • Song: "The Air Is Thin"
  • Artist: Jess Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter
  • CD: Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul
  • Genre: Roots-Rock
Jesse Sykes, plus The Sweet Hereafter guitarist Phil Wandscher

Jesse Sykes and The Sweet Hereafter guitarist Phil Wandscher combine alt-country and warmly alluring psychedelic folk. hide caption

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When singer Jesse Sykes and former Whiskeytown guitarist Phil Wandscher came together eight years ago, each was coming off a tumultuous breakup. So when they formed an intense musical bond — not to mention the band The Sweet Hereafter — the pair had enough painful life experiences between them to last a long music career. Appropriately, their third album, Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul, explores those dark corners of whiskey-drenched gothic country.

The band's sonic scope remains expansive, with lilting horn sections, silvery strings and the ethereal tremolo of Wandscher's guitar. The smoldering "The Air is Thin" evokes the feeling of sitting at the end of the bar in a lonely, dimly lit dive. Combining brokenhearted alt-country and warmly alluring psychedelic folk, the song functions as a sad, simmering, beautiful lament. Sykes' vulnerable, flinty voice wilts as if trying to put her road-weary past behind her, as she sings, "Go to let go of all that you know / but first you need to be free." It all builds to a cathartic closing-time refrain that only gets better with each new round.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul

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Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul
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