Gothic country (sometimes referred to as gothic Americana, Southern Gothic, the Denver sound, or even simply just dark country) is a genre of country music rooted in early jazz, gospel, Americana, gothic rock, and post-punk.[1] Its lyrics focus on dark subject matter.[2] The genre has a regional scene in Denver.[1][2]


Gothic country is rooted in early jazz, gospel, country, Americana, gothic rock, and post-punk.[1] The genre's lyrics focus on macabre and grim subject matter.[2] J.D. Wilkes, frontman of the band Legendary Shack Shakers, described gothic country as "[taking] an angle that there's something grotesque and beautiful in the traditions of the South, the backdrop of Southern living."[3]

Slim Cessna's Auto Club, formed in 1992, often deals with lyrical themes derived from apocalyptic religious imagery, applying a gothic lyrical approach to country and gospel songs, although the band has denied that their songs are gothic.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10] The following year, the gothic country group The Handsome Family formed;[11][12][13][14] Andy Fyfe of Mojo called them "Americana's ghostly Sonny & Cher."[15] A.V. Club reviewer Christopher Bahn compared their music to "a collaboration between Hank Williams and Edgar Allan Poe."[16]

Johnny Cash's American Recordings series, produced by Rick Rubin, a producer best known for working with hip hop and heavy metal artists, was described as having a gothic country sound and image; amidst covers of songs by non-country artists such as Depeche Mode, Danzig and Nine Inch Nails, as well as traditional and World War II-era songs, Cash's album series lyrically derived from haunting, despaired themes such as death, and recurring religious themes in the form of dark gospel recordings.[17]

Pioneered by David Eugene Edwards through his band 16 Horsepower (and later, Wovenhand), a regional gothic country scene developed in Denver.[1][2]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Johnson, Aaron Loki (January 29, 2015). "Yes, there is a 'Denver Sound,' and here's a brief history". CPR. Retrieved November 20, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d ""The Denver Sound" and more". July 26, 2006. Retrieved June 27, 2019.
  3. ^ Oksenhorn, Stewart (February 21, 2006). "Shack*Shakers get back to the roots of Goth". The Aspen Times. Retrieved November 22, 2022.
  4. ^ "Slim Cessna's Auto Club Brings Its Gothic Americana To Beachland Ballroom". November 22, 2016.
  5. ^ Thanki, Juli (June 24, 2008). "SLIM CESSNA'S AUTO CLUB: CIPHER". PopMatters. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  6. ^ Bernstein, Joel (December 2000). "Slim Cessna's Auto Club: just call them country". Country Standard Time. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  7. ^ Pehling, Dave (January 10, 2018). "Eclectic Alt-Country Outfit Teams With Garage-Punk Vet". CBS. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  8. ^ Le-Huu, Bao (September 4, 2012). "Slim Cessna's Auto Club revives their country-rock sound with an eerie gospel aesthetic". Orlando Weekly. Retrieved April 8, 2022.
  9. ^ Miller, Jay (November 25, 2016). "The Commandments according to Slim Cessna's Auto Club". The Patriot Ledger. Retrieved April 9, 2022.
  10. ^ DeLuca, Dan (December 4, 2016). "Dan DeLuca's picks: Dylan's real Royal Albert Hall concert; The Jingle Ball; Angelica Garcia". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved April 14, 2022.
  11. ^ STEINHOFF, JESSICA (April 17, 2009). "The Handsome Family's gothic country gets romantic". Isthmus. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  12. ^ MCKEOUGH, KEVIN (July 22, 2013). "Family Q&A". Chicago Magazine. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  13. ^ Compton, Hannah (September 9, 2016). "The Handsome Family – Unseen – Album Review". Building Our Own Nashville. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  14. ^ Plagenhoef, Scott (November 11, 2003). "Singing Bones The Handsome Family". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 15, 2022.
  15. ^ Fyfe, Andy (September 16, 2016). "The Handsome Family: Unseen". Mojo.
  16. ^ Bahn, Christopher (May 14, 2013). "The Handsome Family: Wilderness". Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  17. ^ "Did Rick Rubin Turn Johnny Cash Into A Cheesy Goth?". August 15, 2006.