The members of Snakefarm weren't kidding when they gave the songs on their album, "Songs From My Funeral," such titles as "Frankie and Johnny," "Rising Sun," "The Streets of Laredo" and "John Henry." The 10 tunes on the New York duo's debut really are American folk standards. Still, this disc won't fit easily on the shelf next to the work of '50s and '60s folk revivalists. Pete Seeger, after all, never released an album with credits for "drum programming" or "vocal fx."
This music could be called "electro-trad," but the chilly rhythms and Anna Domino's chillier vocals -- and the stand-up bass and sax -- reveal it as another lounge-revival gambit.
To be sure, Snakefarm is from the darker side of the cocktail joint, over where Marianne Faithfull and Tom Waits have been nursing their drinks for the last 20 years. Most of these songs are about murder, and some of them have their cool lacerated by shards of squalling guitar. Despite such eruptions, however, the arrangements are so tastefully arty that they undercut the desperation of the lyrics. And that's a miscalculation that just might be fatal.
Appearing Saturday at Iota at 8 p.m. To hear a free Sound Bite from Snakefarm, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8125. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)