Desert Double Bill

The Mojave Desert. Brochures have us thinking that its allure is made up entirely of artificial oases. First and foremost being Palm Springs, a city best known as a retreat for the likes of Sinatra and Dean Martin. Insofar as the larger cities are seen as desirable destinations, it’s so tourists can arrogate themselves above nature. But the freaks and stoners of the 1990s Palm Desert Scene – Yawning Man, Kyuss, Fatso Jetson and the like – knew that there was something far more interesting in the desert itself. This is a place where history means less than time, where the bodies don’t so much disappear as evaporate into the air.

Amigo the Devil. Also known as Danny Kiranos, a maniacally charismatic man and his backup band. A weird blend of folk-rock and Old World sounds. Stories about Dahmer trying to make it in Hollywood, how long the punch line was at Jonestown, heartbreak, revenge for dead children, and killing it at Bingo. Murdered loves and lovely murders. Jungian shadow therapy in musical form. Sick and dark, yes, but also strangely poignant and human. It’s a good thing Kiranos is writing and recording these songs, because if he didn’t have them as an outlet, he would be a shockingly successful cult leader.  

Murder By Death. Probably the best gothic country band making music today. Their most recent album, Spell/Bound, picks up and builds upon the more current and related genre of “ambient country.” Moody electronics weaving through the space between earthy guitars, bass, and strings. Their annual show at Colorado’s Stanley Hotel – the mountain lodge that inspired The Shining – shows that the group has an intrinsic understanding of the connection between music and location. This haunting finds a similar traction in the wide open air of the Mojave.

Amigo the Devil and Murder By Death, with Katacombs opening, at Pappy & Harriet’s, near Yucca Valley, California, September 3rd, 2022.

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