If beloved Dallas band Ottoman Turks is a runaway car, barreling down the road on fire and nearly out of control, Nathan Mongol Wells’ From a Dark Corner is a comparatively more sedate, but no less interesting ride.
Wells is the Turks front man, an outfit that has seen multiple members — among them, Joshua Ray Walker and Billy Law, embark upon critically acclaimed solo careers, only to return to the fold time and again.
Asked about Ottoman Turks’ particular alchemy, the Dallas-born Wells, in a recent conversation, didn’t hesitate.
“It’s something that has, on one hand, made us harder to define to people and maybe a little bit, just a harder sell, in the broad sense, because people don’t quite know what to make of it,” Wells said. “That combination of all of our different tastes and styles and abilities and all that stuff … is really something I love most about the band.”
That bond extends to Corner, as well, since Wells enlisted Walker as a producer on the project, alongside John Pedigo, who helped sculpt these 10 distinctive songs, a bewitching, eclectic blend of hellbent-for-leather stompers like “Honest Drinking” or “Road to Hell” and last-call-at-the-cantina, chiaroscuro ballads like lead single “Beulah Land.”
“With this being my first real solo record, it was a big feat,” Wells said. “It was just an obvious thing to go to people who knew me very well, and who I trusted to help make that thing come to life. Both of them, I think, knew that I was coming from a sort of idiosyncratic place with my music, and so they were eager to highlight that in a way that made sense, and still make it something that people can enjoy and identify [with].”
Wells’s left-of-center sensibility is extending to the record release itself as well. Rather than participate in the conventional roll-out of a new project — artist announces new record, artist books a concert somewhere to promote it; rinse and repeat — the singer-songwriter is upending expectations.
He’ll spread From a Dark Corner‘s release festivities across two nights at Oak Cliff staple Revelers Hall (where he’ll be joined by a diverse cross-section of North Texas music, including Corina Grove, Frankie Leonie, and Baba Yaga Orkestar) and capping it all with a Good Records in-store.
“I was so tired of doing the typical three bands or two bands bill, where it’s an opener and a middle band and then the headliner,” Wells said. “You know exactly what you’re getting into. … I wanted to flip it on its head and do something very different, just to make it more interesting and more inclusive and more diverse … really appealed to me to try and change things up a little bit.”
Nathan Mongol Wells release parties at Revelers Hall, Dallas. 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday. Tickets are $10. Good Records in-store, Dallas. 2 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free.
Preston Jones is a North Texas freelance writer and regular contributor to KXT. Email him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter (@prestonjones). Our work is made possible by our generous, music-loving members. If you like how we lift up local music, consider becoming a KXT sustaining member right here.