Spooky, timeless AmericanaMaybe it’s because they’re from the other Athens—the one in Ohio—that Southeast Engine’s fourth album sounds so out of time, and so removed from current musical fads and trends.
The freak-folk tendencies, biblical allusions and poetic nature imagery could have originated in 2009, 1969 or 1869, for that matter. Musically, lead singer/songwriter Adam Remnant’s cracked tenor and the heavily reverbed organ work suggest Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy fronting Elvis Costello’s Attractions. But the songwriting—starting with a 10-minute three-part suite featuring dancing ghost maidens, a shimmering white dress that floats on air, and what sounds like a mystical vision of heaven and the hand of the Almighty reaching down from the clouds—is what ultimately wins me over. Remnant’s vision is so utterly singular, weird and compelling that you’ll stick around for this mapless journey. God only knows where they’re going, but being lost is most of the fun.
Listen to Southeast Engine's "Black Gold" from From the Forest to the Sea: