Cookie Trail - The Country Dark (Humu Records)
Holy North Pole! These Finns know sure how to host a hoedown. It must be all that midnight sun.
The fourth album by The Country Dark is like a downhill luge ride on amphetamines with a bellyful of rye whisky. Previous exposure to 2016’s “Hypnic Jerk” serves as a great primer but “Cookie Trail” kicks the weirdness up by a considerable notch. This is where the early Beasts of Bourbon butt heads with Jeffrey Lee Pierce.
"Cookie Trail" is Americana with a severe genetic flaw. The perpetrator is toothless, last seen hanging around a murder scene and left driving a stolen muscle car. The Country Dark wear hob-nailed cowboy boots and a 10-gallon hat. The hills they occupy do have eyes. The Country Dark carry an axe and they aren't afraid to use it on all nine of these tunes.
“Just Because You Killed Jesse James” is the closest they come to a country shuffle and it sounds like it’s on steroids. Mike Sollas’ vocal has Lux written all over it at the faltering breakdown. A perverse guitar line and another off the hook vocal performance pushes “Slippery Slimy Slut” off its trolley and into a padded cell.
Did you know The Country Dark put out a record called “Dead Man's Handjob”? “Cookie Trail” features a talking blues tune called “Beauty Queen Sodomized”. These people clearly need help with some of their obsessions.
The humour is blacker than a Norwegian metal band’s hearts on “Today I Killed My Best Friend” where a vaguely Eastern guitar twang struggles to overcome all that dark irony. Lyrics like “I woke up this morning with his dick in his mouth” don’t quite do the tune justice.
“Magic Empire” could be covered by Nick Cave if one day he choses to set aside the torch songs and suck in some of that healthy country air. Or stench.
The big bottom-end of “Death of Kay Keat” makes for a straight-forward murder rocker by comparison, and “Black Diamond Train” takes on a jaunty air with its piping organ following a pumping bass-line.
Bloody murder and sex to one side, guitarists Marko Lukkarinen and Henri Keinänen are quite adept at this rockabilly/shockabilly thing so there’s musical substance behind the ghoulish window dressing.
“Cookie Trail” is more fun than a rural New Zealand beauty contest where men are men and sheep are scared. Hyperbole aside, it's been on constant rotation at the I-94 Bar for a couple of weeks and it's not showing signs of wearing out its welcome soon.
You can hear audio samples at the band's label website. If you're up to the challenge of translation by Google, you'll ordering a copy from them is worth your while.