Sons and Daughters
The Repulsion Box
If David Lynch were to direct a remake of The Wild Bunch set in the Scottish Highlands, Sons and Daughters would be his first choice for the soundtrack. You can practically hear the saloon doors swinging as these four weave murderous ballads in their hardened Glaswegian accents, easing traditional Scottish folk elements into a feisty, dark Nashville twang. This group makes mandolins sound evil, and that ain't easy.
Perhaps this devilish sleaziness is why Franz Ferdinand's Alex Kapranos has been gushing about his friends ever since they released their 2003 EP, Love the Cup (The Repulsion Box winks at him on its single "Dance Me In," a done-me-wrong woman's counterpoint to the cocky "Take Me Out"). Maybe the appeal's because Sons and Daughters, formed by ex–Arab Strap members Adele Bethel and David Gow, is one of the few bands not imitating Kapranos and company these days. Instead of channeling '80s synthy dance rock, the group takes that itch to move and reaches back to the '60s—and even earlier—drawing from the seamy side of American folk music. The Repulsion Box has a Nick Cave feel to it (probably because Cave's producer, Victor Van Vugt, is behind the boards), marching along beneath the ebbing, flowing tension between singers Bethel and Scott Paterson. On the Violent Femmes–tinged "Red Receiver," Paterson's smooth baritone cools off Bethel's acerbic brogue, and on "Monsters" they turn a lover's squabble violent: "Don't go and ask your sick little questions / I can't fake the cure for desire," she spits. His response? "Monogamy to you seems just black and blue / All the best psychotic lovers ain't got nothing on you." It's so good it hurts.—Antonia Simigis
Sons and Daughters play Empty Bottle Tuesday 6.