Go See Agent Ribbons

by delarue

If you like dark rock music, get to know Austin band Agent Ribbons. Last night at Party Xpo the duo version of this group put on an excellent, sometimes understatedly, sometimes outright menacing show despite having to cope with some technical difficulties. The previous night at Bard College upstate, frontwoman/guitarist Natalie Ribbons had lent her Telecaster to someone who’d put it into some obscure, weird tuning, and had then retuned her tuner as well. But she wouldn’t let any of that stop her. Behind her, drummer Lauren Ribbons held down an elegant thump on the toms and the kick – she does what Lou Reed probably wanted Maureen Tucker to do but didn’t have the guts to ask. She’s also got a beautiful voice, which she used to add creepy, high harmonies on a few songs.

One of those songs was Family Haircut, a new one – you know a band is good when their best song is their newest one. This turned out to be a reverb-drenched take on 50s noir Nashville, ending with Natalie singing what sounded like a sarcastic la-la-la outro. A lot of their songs have a surreal, often macabre edge. One example was Grey Gardens, which is grey in the purest sense of the word – it’s pretty much dead, offhandedly referencing the dotty old women immortalized in the Maysles Brothers’ documentary. Another song worked a primitive, minor-key Cramps garage rock riff; the one that followed that sounded like lo-fi Arthur Lee. Their last tune took a dramatic early 60s Elvis-style pop tune and gave it abrasive noiserock overtones, while their opener, Pinocchio veered uneasily between major and minor like Syd Barrett. They could have played twice as long and nobody would have left; if this intrigues you, they’re at Public Assembly tonight at 9ish opening for the Secret History and then at Goodbye Blue Monday on Sunday at around 10.