Dark country / modern bluegrass

Hey all ! :vulcan_salute::grin:

It’s not at all my primary musical style (what a surprise) but sometimes I really appreciate dark country and more generally modern bluegrass. One of my all-time references is Dead Man by Neil Young which is nothing less than a masterpiece. Axe by The Steel Woods (I made a cover of this song) is also a good example of what I could search for.

So I’d like some advices from people who are more in those musical styles, let’s say Americana in general but what I’m really interested into is more dark country. I’m not interested by very FM / easy-listening things (no Dolly Parton please). I’m not much interested by bluesy things, but why not. and I’m not much interested by fast / technical stuff like Danny Gatton or Albert Lee, I love their music but that’s just not what I’m looking for right now.

Well I’m searching for excellent dark country / modern bluegrass (or possibly other americana sub-styles) songs and band. Could some of you give me some band names, songs or whatever ?


My son recommended this song specifically. He said a lot of Modest Mouse fits in the category of dark country. Although, I would call it more Alternative Dark Country (?).

This my favorite Modest Mouse song.

yeah, nice music, cool to ear but it’s like 0% country/americana :sweat_smile:

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So, more like this?

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yeah more in that spirit, even if I don’t like this song at all. sounds very vulgar, don’t you think ? + a ska rythm. I hate ska :frowning: sorry but I had to cut before the middle of the song

I’m more searching for good music :sweat_smile:

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:rofl: Okay. I’ll see what else I can come up with.


Violent Femmes is kind of close:

More like Folk Punk but kind of similar. Definitely a product of Americana. And really, really good.

For straight up dark country it’s hard to beat the man in black. I mean, he covers Nine Inch Nails :slight_smile:


This is a tricky one, @terb… I have two suggestions, but I am not even sure they fit the bill either… but, they are Americana, for sure!

The first is eerily beautiful, I really dig the vocal harmonies, and the ever so slightly dissonant guitar arpeggios:

(full disclosure: I heard this the first time as part of an episode of “Devs”, where the synaestesia with the pictures was such so mesmerizing).

The other suggestion is a re-interpretation of an old folk song with, I think, a really cool guitar accompaniment. Super slow, super intimate:

Again, I think these are great examples of Americana, but if they are what you looking for, I am not so sure… but, I find them both “dark” in their own ways!


I got ideas!

Try this: Steeldrivers were the bluegrass outfit fronted by Chris Stapleton before he went solo. His vocals are a thing of power and beauty. I love this tune:

Another favorite of mine in bridging folk with more roots and grit are these fellas from San Francicsco: Two Gallants:

For my absolute favorite in roots music that grabs you and makes you feel like you’re in a different, cold and dark time - I really like Charlie Parr:

For traditional country music that is as dark as dark can be, while still being steeped in fundamentalist gospel hellfire, the best of all time: The Louvin Brothers. Their harmonies get me every time.

I toured with this genre all over the place, played a bunch of these tunes, and even got to open for Charlie Parr a few times. Let me know if anything here sparks interest, because I probably have more where it came from!


I don’t think either fall under the category of dark country, but for modern bluegrass you should check out Billy Strings, or Greensky Bluegrass. Fruition is cool too, but they are a little more pop than what it sounds like you are looking for. Like I said, I’m not sure about dark country, but those three groups are all great bluegrass/Americana in my opinion.

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I like this ! not really dark country but still very interesting. thanks @howard :slight_smile:


sorry I answer slowly, I really want to listen carefully to every song. great ideas @Gio, I really dig the Charlie Parr song (with a floating tempo :sweat_smile: ), not exactly what I would call dark country but really excellent heavy blues/folk song ! really love it ! thanks !

… speaking about heavy roots things, @Gio, I love R.L. Burnside. this guy even recorded an album (A Ass Pocket Of Whiskey) with Jon Spencer. I also love Jon Spencer, he’s probably the guy I’ve seen the most often playing live with Blues Explosion. I love Blues Explosion, but for now we’ll stick to the R.L. Burnside things :grin:


Way into R.L. Burnside.
This is so gooooood!!

Some buddies of mine in Portland do some great dirty dirty versions of R.L. Burnside among others.
You may dig them - they fit in the dark… something category!
Such good guys, and really honest students and lovers of the roots tradition.


yeah, hard for them to be listed after Charlie Parr and RL Burnside … still good music ! :grin:


Not sure what dark country is… but for bluegrass I’ve always loved Nickle Creek!

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Also different that what you asked for, I’ve always loved Social Distortion for Punkabilly.

I really like Charlie Parr


yeah, sounds good, that’s more what I call “modern bluegrass”

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ALthough it’s not modern (I was listening to it 25 years ago), check out Killbilly for some alternative bluegrass: