Birmingham, Alabama-based lo-fi rockabilly troubadour Dan Sartain rode in on the wave of interest in stripped-down back-to-basics roots music spearheaded by the White Stripes in the early 2000s. The lean and bequiffed Sartain self-released a couple of long-players before his label debut, 2003's Dan Sartain vs. the Serpientes, was released on Rocket from the Crypt/Hot Snakes frontman John "Speedo" Reis' Swami imprint. The frantic and compelling fusion of rockabilly, blues, garage, and punk, characterized by heartfelt yet gloriously misanthropic songs, ensured that the album stood out among the crop of Stripes copyists. The album found particular favor in the U.K., where it was championed by hip tastemaker NME.
The follow-up, Join Dan Sartain (2006), continued the winning theme. Partly recorded at London analog boffin Liam Watson's ToeRag studio (also used by the White Stripes, Billy Childish, the Flaming Stars, etc.), the album was a more diverse affair featuring occasional forays into lounge and mariachi -- but all delivered with trademark breathless abandon. Two singles from the album broke into the Top 20 U.K. independent charts ("Replacement Man" and "The Flight of the Finch") that year. The momentum was maintained when Sartain was personally approached by fan Jack White to support the White Stripes in 2007. Sartain released a couple of singles in late 2009, one of which ("Bohemian Groove") was released on White's Third Man Records as a curtain-raiser to his fifth album, Dan Sartain Lives, which arrived in the summer of 2010. The following spring saw the release of a career-spanning rarities and outtakes collection called Legacy of Hospitality.
In 2012, Sartain's musical formula began to shift with the release of Too Tough to Live, a wild and trashy 19-minute homage to the punk idols of his youth. It was also his first release for One Little Indian, and he followed up in 2013 with the eclectic DUDESBLOOD. After a three-year break, Sartain re-emerged in early 2016 with Century Plaza, a darkly hued electro-pop album that he purportedly wrote on an iPad. ~ Matthew Garbutt