Friday, February 12, 2010

Scout Niblett’s latest…and I get out of the house again

I have a review of Scout Niblett’s most recent album, The Calcination of Scout Niblett up today at Blurt. I can recommend it for early hours soul searching, though maybe not for putting the warpaint on for Friday night. It’s very stark and very powerful. From my Blurt review, up yesterday:

The songs on Calcination are deceptively simple sounding, constructed out of repetitive, minimal melodic lines and impressionistic images, but that simplicity is where they get their power. "Lucy Lucifer", accompanied just with drums, has the primitive clarity of a hex laid down by firelight, while the wonderfully uneasy "I.B.D." follows a thread of Appalachian picking through the darkest thickets of self-doubt. There's something ritual about these songs, an aura of hard, necessary healing through pain. It's not an easy listen, but Calcination will stay with you for a long time.


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Also, I went to a show last night in Keene, which is remarkable because a) Keene is only 10 miles away b) nobody ever plays there and c) this show was damned good.


The 1,2,3s

Openers 1,2,3s were local, I think, breaking in a new drummer and having a bit of trouble with vocal levels but not bad, not bad at all. The first song was kind of a mathy, funky jam with fast pick-less bass and hard drumming (it was in 5/4). Later efforts skirted baroque pop, with waltz-time pop melodies ornamented tonight only by trombone, but possibly at other times by strings and all many of instruments. (“Carousel” said the singer, was named for its endless repetition of a theme and its campy instrumentation.)


The Daredevil Christopher Wright

Pretty enjoyable, but I had really come for the Daredevil Christopher Wright, a threesome out of Wisconsin, two brothers and an unrelated drummer. One of the cool things about this band is that they sing pretty elaborate three part harmonies and the two brothers – John and Jason Sunday – have voices that are eerily similar, so that it sounds like one voice doubled, except it’s not. They really nail those harmonies, and on very minimal sound equipment and a space like someone’s living room, the instruments sounded unusually balanced and good. Those were mostly guitar, bass and drums, with the principals switching around a bit, but also some xylophone.

Lyrics were unusually good, acerbic and occasionally pretty funny. Probably the biggest romp was a song called “Conversation about Cancer” all one-two, up-and-down slashing and gleeful, giddy harmonies.

Towards the end, they attempted to teach the crowd the art of multi-part singing, dividing the audience into three groups for “The East Coast” and leading us in singing fairly complicated counterpoints. I sucked, personally, but it was kind of fun trying and anyway, as bandleader John said, “it doesn’t really matter, does it?”

So anyway, this is good stuff and if they’re touring Keene, they’re touring everywhere. Why not check them out. Dates:

Feb 12th - Providence, RI - AS220
Feb13th - Brooklyn, NY - Glasslands
Feb15th - Baltimore, MD - Golden West Cafe
Feb16th - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
Feb17th - Columbus, OH - Wholly Craft
Feb19th - Indianapolis, IN - Planet Home
Feb 20th - Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club
Mar 4th - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
Mar 5th - Champaign/Urbana, IL- Mike ’n Molly’s
Mar 6th - St. Louis, MO- Lemp Arts Cente
Mar 7th - Lexington, KY - Natasha’s Bistro
Mar 8th - Nashville, TN - The Basement
Mar 10th - Asheville, NC - Bobo Gallery

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