Ben Whitehead Likes the Darkness of Murder by Death

The five guys in Gatlinburg-based Cutthroat Shamrock have been tearing up barrooms all over East Tennessee for the last six years with a rowdy amalgamation of traditional Celtic music, Appalachian folk, and old-school punk—imagine the Pogues with a mandolin instead of an accordion. They're celebrating St. Patrick's Day with a blowout at The Valarium next week. Here's what singer/guitarist Ben Whitehead's been listening to in preparation.

The Hackensaw Boys, Look Out (Nettwerk, 2007)

We just played a Blue Plate Special with them. It's high-energy stuff, and that's what I like. It's well-recorded, too, especially with seven guys in the band.

Tom Waits, Real Gone (ANTI-, 2004)

There's some crazy stuff on there. It keeps you thinking.

Murder by Death

It's in the car, and my wife's got the car right now, so I'm not sure which one it is. I love the cello. I love that the guy's voice sounds like he's really old; he sounds like an old soul. But you meet him and he's in his late 20s or early 30s. They're put together well for a four-piece. I like the darkness of it.

The Avett Brothers, Emotionalism (Ramseur Records, 2007)

I like that these guys have been working so hard. I also like the family harmony between Seth and Scott Avett, and I really enjoy their songwriting. I'm really excited to hear their next record; they just signed with American and picked up Bruce Springsteen as a fan, so I hear they're going to do one of his songs on the next album.