Blanche come here haunted by associations? chiefly leader Dan Miller’s with fellow Detroiter Jack White. The pair shared several bands before Jack’s vault to fame, and moonlighting Blanchers made up half his Loretta Lynn-backing Detroit supergroup The Do-Whaters. Blanche also supported The White Stripes last year, and bunked with them on this UK trip. But Dan’s dryly gothic, beauty-and-the-freak double-act with wife Tracee in their country-based band more strongly recalls The Handsome Family’s Brett and Rennie Sparks?a comparison they’re not shamed by.
There’s room for more than one alt.country Addams Family, after all, and Dan and Tracee have their own creepy style. He has lank, side-parted hair and the haunted, bony look of a 1930s farm hand, or a western grotesque. If he is John Carradine, she is Nancy Sinatra, his most unlikely lover, alabaster pretty with a red bouffant, Tudor barmaid dress and sugary voice. The music they make is the weirdly in-bred country-punk such a coupling suggests.
“I don’t deserve a grave,” Dan begins on “So Long Cruel World” to the usual passive response from the capital’s Americana crowd. The sly infidelity duet “Do You Trust Me?”, with Tracee tossing coquettish protestations over her shoulder to her enflamed husband, enlivens matters. But the real test of Blanche’s mettle comes with their take on the strange traditions of their country, which the likes of the Handsomes turn into such dream-like, blood-dark parables. “Garbage Picker”, “Crucifix” and “Superstition” all visit such terrain, capped by the plea of “This Town” for “singers who still believe” to save a faithless, Dogville-like den. The trouble is, Blanche don’t sing like believers but actors, the gods and devils in America’s bones only words to them. Tracee’s polite promise to “fuck you until you die” on The Gun Club’s “Jack On Fire” stirs a deeper response in the crowd. And when, on “Someday”, banjoist Patch Boyle?who looks like a seedy salesman, a shifty hanger-on ready to do the others in?swings from the ceiling while preaching hellfire, like a demonic Norman Wisdom, resistance falls apart. More stage-show than soul, but sly fun.