Best One-Man Goth-Country Band

The Slow Poisoner

As Andrew Goldfarb describes it, “slow-poisoning” was an 18th-century phenomenon in which French wives would insert small quantities of arsenic into their husbands' meals, eventually killing them. It's the closest thing these women could get to a divorce. What exactly that has to do with Goldfarb's work as the Slow Poisoner — a delightfully dark and literate San Francisco one-man musical outfit — isn't entirely clear. “I just thought that would be a freaky name for a band,” Goldfarb says. He sees his music as “an elixir and a curative,” and, like the distressed Frenchwomen, he'll serve it in all sorts of weird places: bars, galleries, and cafes, of course, but also beauty parlors and non-Brainwash laundromats. (“You've got a captive audience. And there's not much else to do in a laundromat, so it's a win-win situation,” he explains.) Having started with a full band, Goldfarb slowly lost members until he decided to just do everything — guitars, drums, vocals — himself. And somehow, the Slow Poisoner's mix of horror kitsch (there's a fake rubber hand eerily shooting up from his kick drum), old-world wackery (lyrics about forgotten witches and creepy rituals), and deft songcraft add up to a project that's as engrossing as it is uniquely San Francisco. Goldfarb describes his sound as either a cross between David Bowie and Johnny Cash, or “a hoe-down on Mars.” Also comic book artist and an occasional substitute teacher, the guy has made his life a continuing mission to keep this city weird — and that's one poison we're happy to swallow.

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