Bonnie 'Prince' Billy will return to an Irish stage in late January next year. Will Oldham's alter-ego will play Vicar Street on 31st January next. Tickets will cost you €28.
Palace Brothers' debut single Ohio River Boat Song (1993) appeared, out of nowhere, sharing space with cover stars and perennials such as PJ Harvey and The Fall, in the top 5 of John Peel’s Festive Fifty in 1993. Sounding careworn, detached, yet oddly aggressive the song introduced Will Oldham's voice to an audience not known to relish the sound of the rural backwoods as imagined by a twenty one year old in the company of two former members of Slint. The debut Palace Brothers album that followed There Is No-One What Will Take Care of You (1993) included song titles such as "Idle Hands are the Devils Playthings" and "Oh Lord are You in Need?" This was an unknown, foreign, if not radical, aesthetic at a time when terms like alt country or Americana hadn't been configured, let alone joined by nu-folk, as catch all terms for mollifying, mortgage comfort music. Today a juxtaposition of a Gram Parson CD reissue and a passing acquaintance with Nick Drake' BEBEBE tunings will get you a spot at a boutique festival.
Upon their release, the first Palace recordings sounded almost hostile in their strange, broken lyricism. On these records Oldham sounds like he is exploring something biblical and untenable. The empty spaces in his songs are really empty - not epic, poetic or windswept. He sounds informed by the silences in John Huston films or by Peter Bogdanovich's decision to film The Last Picture Show in black and white.