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The Black Heart Procession

Black Heart Procession is from San Diego, but sounds like a band comprised of the lonesome abandoned children of some lost Faulkner novel who have continued living in their decrepit, dilapidated family mansion for years since the tragic deaths of their aristocratic parents. The band's core members -- Pall Jenkins and Tobias Nathaniel of Three Mile Pilot fame -- enlist numerous friends and acquaintances from the San Diego scene to play various instruments, so the band's roster can sometimes swell to as many as eight performers. On five full-length albums, The Black Heart Procession has used saws, stripped-down unconventional percussion, Wurlitzer piano, subtle Moog, and other nontraditional instrumentation to create the kind of carnivalesque dirges we've come to expect from Tom Waits over the years. But the voices here are younger, and their owners' wounds are fresher, and somehow you're inclined to think that their tendency is to revel in the pain rather than kill it with whiskey. While slowly evolving in style from album to album, BHP has remained creepy and unsettling, tragic and exhausted, cold and very sad. Yet they've always been a rumbled elegance, a touch of the debonair, and a flair for small bits of dark melodrama, which might be the wild card that keeps you coming back for more.