Musicians have the strange compulsion to dig their own holes and never find a way to crawl back out. Take Denver's Bad Luck City: Its self-titled debut is a thick, mucky quagmire of piss, bile, mean spirits and whiskey-spiked backwash. Like the Mekons dunking the Dirty Three in a septic tank full of blues, the group scrapes slithery violin and slide guitar against wheezing harmonica and piano until the friction starts to stink like a rotting corpse. Singer/bassist Dameon Merkl is the hate child of every great, drunken-fuckup-genius-crooner that was ever ejected from rock's scabby underbelly: Tom Waits, Michael Gira, Shane MacGowan, even Jim Morrison. His filth-smeared lyrics and guttural low notes trawl the nether regions of consciousness, shoveling up psychic sludge and muddying the waters of reason and sanity. "I must have been born under a bad moon," Merkl grunts like he's exhaling pure pitch. "Bad fuckin' sun and solar system." As dark, dank and dirty as it is, Bad Luck City is worth breaking out the shovel for.