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A Swamp Rocker's Guide to 'Living' Dangerously

Singer-songwriter Dax Riggs lays on the unearthly, death-obsessed vibe with a trowel.
Singer-songwriter Dax Riggs lays on the unearthly, death-obsessed vibe with a trowel.

Dax Riggs spent years toiling in glam and metal bands few have heard of — Deadboy and the Elephantmen, Acid Bath — which turns out to have been great practice for his latest incarnation as a Creepy Swamp Goth Who Really, Really Loves David Bowie.

The Houma, Louisiana-based singer-songwriter lays on the unearthly, death-obsessed vibe with a trowel; no one, even a former metal singer, sounds this creepy by accident. And yet Riggs' solo debut is a fine, mostly convincing mixture of classic rock, old-school country-blues and self-conscious revivalism a la The White Stripes. If Iggy Pop had been raised in a swamp, he'd probably sound like this.

We Sing of Only Blood or Love's best track, the rollicking "Living Is Suicide" contemplates the futility of existence — or something like that — dressed up as a garage-rock anthem. It's prickly and ghostly, occasionally plodding, occasionally amazing and deathly serious. That Riggs sounds eerily like The Cars' Ric Ocasek (probably not what he was going for, but still) adds a bit of bonus weirdness to what's already one of the year's most delightfully forbidding tracks.

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

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Allison L. Stewart
Allison Stewart is a writer living in New York. It's entirely possible to see her work in The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, No Depression, Rolling Stone or any number of other places. Or to miss it entirely, which is just as likely.