Dax Riggs

We Sing of Only Blood or Love (Fat Possum Records)

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Dax Riggs performs with Howlin' Rain and Queens of the Stone Age Sunday, September 16, at House of Blues.

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Legend says that blues great Robert Johnson made a deal with the devil at the crossroads in exchange for ungodly musical skill. Dax Riggs, former singer/guitarist of indie-rock duo Dead Boy and the Elephantmen, seems to have had a similar meeting with Satan before recording this album. "Have mercy on the devil; he's a friend of mine," Riggs croons on "Living Is Suicide." In exchange for friendship, Riggs has been bestowed the power to craft hypnotic, stripped-down garage blues and gritty psychedelic goth rock, as well as an inexplicably sexy voice (somewhere between David Bowie and late Christian Death singer Rozz Williams). When Riggs' velvety voice oozes lines such as, "I laid all I own at the devil's feet/And I have placed a rose between the angel's teeth/Night lay beside me" ("The Terrors of Nightlife") over swooning synthesizers and gently pulsing percussion, we're ready to get naked and contemplative. All the tracks here, from the piano-laced punk bop of "Forgot I Was Alive" to the dark Delta blues of "Dog-Headed Whore" to the soulful ballad "Dethbryte," point to a conceptual partnership with the Prince of Darkness. But ultimately, Riggs stabs the devil in the back: "When my chemicals go wrong/Murder the devil/Take his song for my own" ("Didn't Know Yet What I'd Know When I Was Bleedin'"). If rock 'n' roll outlives the devil, we have Dax Riggs to thank.

 
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