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Category: noir music

One of New York’s Great Surf and Twang Guitarists Visits a Familiar Williamsburg Watering Hole This Week

Jason Loughlin is one of the elite guitarists in Americana because he has his own sound rather than just a deep bag of recycled country and blues licks. Much as there probably aren’t many classic country and surf rock licks he doesn’t know, he always finds a way to make them sound fresh. Big names – Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris among them – are aware of this and have enlisted his services for a long time. But Loughlin is also a bandleader, and has had a regular more-or-less monthly residency at Skinny Dennis pretty much since they opened, with a long break during the collective insanity in 2020 and 2021. He’s back there with his band on March 16 at 9.

Loughlin’s recorded output as a leader is not extensive, but what he has is absolutely brilliant. His most recent album, Peach Crate came out quite awhile ago – his Bandcamp page lists two different dates. If expertly twangy guitar instrumentals that transcend the surf genre are your thing, you have to hear this (and you may have already – getting to this one a little late!) It’s also been quite awhile since this blog was in the house at Loughlin show. If memory serves right, the last time was at the old Hank’s in 2015, where he was playing his usual tasteful, purposeful leads alongside folk noir songstress Jessie Kilguss.

He opens the record with the warm, briskly shuffling title track, a western swing highway theme with some snazzy, rapidfire guitar riffage over sailing layers of lapsteel, bassist Jason Hogue and Stephen Chopek subtly pushing the beat.

Loughlin builds an intricate web of lickety-split, tongue-in-cheek Buck Owens Bakersfield phrasing in the second track, Whoopsie Daisy. Tango and Cash is a real treat, part loping Ventures summer surf theme, part chiming countrypolitan, part Tex-Mex. Woody’s in the Hood is another gem of a mashup, a Django shuffle as noir icons Big Lazy would have done it.

Likewise, Steep Grade is a creepy, picturesque spiderwalking number, but with plenty of jokes too good to give away. The trio pick up the pace with She’s Something Sweet, a percolating blend of Bakersfield twang and elegant 60s soul. Hello Tijuana, Goodbye Kidney is not the horror tableau you might expect, but instead, a plush, lingering 6/8 ballad without words. Who knew that being on the wrong side of an organ trafficking scheme could be so enjoyable!

Loughlin builds a tight web of jump blues-flavored twin harmonies in Recordian and follows with the chugging, erudite Slack Jaw, part Buck Owens, part late-period Bob Wills, with Rich Hinman on pedal steel. Loughlin winds up the album with Headless Body Topless Bar, a slow, lurid roadhouse theme with echoes as diverse as the Raybeats and the Friends of Dean Martinez.


The Best Twin Peaks Cover Band in New York Slinks Into Bushwick

Of all the extreme niche cover bands in the world, one of the best are Fuck You Tammy. The bandname is a reference to the most recent iteration of Twin Peaks. The group – a spinoff of the similarly cinematic but more techy Scam Avenue – dedicate themselves to playing music from every incarnation of David Lynch’s iconic film noir franchise: the first two network tv seasons, the brief cable comeback series and the Twin Peaks movie.

They released their lone single so far, a lush but hauntingly intimate and psychedelic version of True Love’s Flame, in February 2020, barely a month before the lockdown. The good news is that they’re back, and have a relatively rare hometown show coming up on March 15 at 8 PM at Alphaville. The venue is one of many in (increasingly less) trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods who’ve fallen for the goofy dollars-and-cents online ticketing fad (which may be a condition of taking Trump plandemic loans). What that means for customers, assuming that whoever’s working the door isn’t making change, is that it will probably set you back an even $14 cash.

This blog was at Long Island City Bar in February of 2018, where the band drifted through a lustrous, lusciously lurid set. Unfortunately, that show didn’t make it to the web, but a shorter show from the Bell House from a couple of weeks later did and is up at youtube. And it’s every bit as good: the Queens gig was more instrumentals, while this one focuses more on vocal numbers.

What’s best about this band is that they add subtle original touches, when they’re not doing a stunning job recreating these cult classics note for note. They open the show with a vigorous punk jazz-tinged take of The Pink Room, the creepy Black Lodge stripper theme from the movie, propelled with a stalking pulse by bassist Julie Rozansky and drummer Nate Smith as saxophonist Anthony Cekay fires off jagged, smoky accents. Then frontwoman Devery Doleman – who has much more powerful pipes than Julee Cruise – takes over in front of the band and turns in a similarly pouncing cover of Floating

Keyboardist Bill Ferullo and guitarist David Andreana open Falling with the Twin Peaks title theme: just as at the Queens gig, the effect is a lot more stark and sinister than the plush, saturnine studio sound of the original score. Then Doleman shimmies in her red dress and goes way up into Cruise-ing highs for Rocking Back Inside My Heart, the wistful pop ballad from the comeback season.

Rozansky, who has a softer voice, takes over the mic and keeps the sad 50s vibe going in Just You, Andreana firing off spot-on reverbtoned jangle and whipcrack behind her. Then the band bring the menace back with a brisk take of Into the Night, eerie echoey electric piano against spare guitar jangle and an unscripted, smoky Cekay sax solo. It’s the high point of the show.

Little Jimmy Scott’s version of Sycamore Trees is impossible to beat, so the band reinvent it with more of a cliffhanger guitar noir edge. They go back to slow, distantly pensive 6/8 retro ballad territory with The World Spins as Rozansky punches in with her treble up behind Doleman’s angst-fueled vocals, and then max out the mystery as they wind it out with a dead calm. The two frontwoman sing disconsolate harmonies in the closer, a meticulous recreation of The Nightingale. Where Tom Csatari’s Twin Peaks covers focus more on the menace that a band can find outside the lines, Fuck You Tammy max out the red neon inner core.

Intense, Smartly Dynamic Sounds From War Honey

War Honey are one of the most interesting relatively new bands in New York. If there hadn’t been a lockdown, it’s a fair bet that they would have more material recorded than they have now, and what they have is strong. Frontwoman/guitarist Gabrielle Dana writes expressive lyrics and sings with a dramatic, sometimes operatic delivery. Lead guitarist Ben Fitts hits his spots with equal parts grit and finesse. They lost their original rhythm section to the lockdown, but their new bassist and drummer, David Bloom and Ian Ackerman match the dynamic intensity of the layered guitars and impassioned vocals.

Their latest release is a short album, Last Woman Left At The Market, streaming at Bandcamp. The first song. Stupid Stature sounds like Serena Jost fronting Beast Make Bomb, with a little West African guitar. Track two, Racehorse is an elegant, immersive, angst-fueled soul ballad as Mia Wilson of the Bright Smoke might have done it

Forage For Porridge, which is as crushingly cynical as you would expect, is a scrambling political broadside with early 80s Siouxsie echoes. The final cut is Halfwit Banquet, with ominous hints of metal, horror surf and a starry noir pulse:

Thought I’d open the floodgates
For no other reason
Than to retain
Control for a change
I suppose that I’m owed it
Since racing through the maze
And coming in first
Just to learn it’s all a game

Turn out the lights and let this one haunt you.

Another Gorgeously Cinematic New Mix of Accordion and Piano Jazz From Ben Rosenblum

Ben Rosenblum is one of the most electrifyingly eclectic voices in jazz. He’s as adrenalizing an accordionist as he is a pianist, but his strongest suit ultimately is his compositions. His earlier ones can be hard to find, but one place you can find him is at Smalls on March 2 where he’s playing the album release show for his new one A Thousand Pebbles – streaming at Spotify – with his brilliant Nebula Project septet. Sets are at 7:30 and around 9; cover is $25 cash at the door.

The opening tune, Catamaran, takes awhile to get going, but when it does, it’s breathtaking. Trumpeter Wayne Tucker hits a tantalizingly fleeting chromatic passage, with the bandleader, bassist Marty Jaffe and drummer Ben Zweig build a bustling high-seas tableau. Rosenblum switches to accordion for a spiritedly goofy Irish jig of an outro.

He sticks with that instrument over guitarist Rafael Rosa’s pulse in Bulgares while the band build an increasingly complex web of gorgeous Balkan tonalities, the wicked spirals of the accordion in contrast with the blistering conversation between Rosa and Tucker. It’s one of the best track released in 2023 so far.

The album’s title suite begins with a sentimental chorale between Tucker and saxophonists Jasper Dutz and Xavier Del Castillo. The second movement, Road to Recollection, is a genial, brassy swing tune where the ensemble sounds twice as large as they are behind Rosenblum’s piano rivulets, punches and pointillisms. Backward masked patches signal the segue to The Gathering, a spacious, increasingly acidic, moody accordion jazz tune that strongly evokes the Claudia Quintet, a calmly biting sax solo at the center and another electrifying Tucker solo on the way out.

Rosenblum opens the conclusion, Living Streams, with spare, wary gospel piano, Rosa and the horns enhancing the hymnal ambience as they bring the suite full circle.

Bookended with Jaffe’s somber, bowed bass, The Bell from Europe – a post WWII reflection on the legacy of violence – couldn’t be more relevant. Tucker’s solemn solo rises in tandem with the horns over a funereal pulse as the music brightens, Rosa channeling a sobering angst along with melancholy, chugging bass to remind that too little has changed since 1945.

The band pick up the pace with The Village Steps, Rosenblum’s pensive, pastoral accordion sailing over a churning, altered samba groove. The turn into shadowy noir with Lilian, a portrait of a femme fatale, is deliciously, understatedly lurid, with eerie reverb guitar, smoky horns, suspiciously genial bass clarinet from Dutz, a slithery bass solo, and enigmatically circling piano worthy of a classic Johnny Mandel theme from the 50s.

They reinvent Jobim’s Song of the Sabia as jaunty forro jazz with Rosenblum’s accordion at the center over the horns’ lustre: imagine Forro in the Dark at their most lithe and animated. Rosenblum closes with Implicit Attitude, a supple swing tune that looks back to Gil Evans-era Miles with simmering solos from Del Castillo’s tenor sax, Tucker’s muted trumpet and Dutz’s dynamically leaping bass clarinet. This rich and vastly diverse album deserves consideration for best jazz record of 2023.

Darkly Ambient Americana Instrumentalists Suss Headline an Enveloping, Inviting Brooklyn Triplebill Tomorrow Night

In 2018 this blog called cinematic instrumental group Suss “the missing link between Brian Eno and Ennio Morricone – or the Lost Patrol without the drums.” They were a quintet then. Tragically, they’ve been whittled down to a trio after the sudden 2021 loss of keyboardist Gary Lieb, but they keep putting out frequently mesmerizing, sometimes Lynchian deep-sky themes. Their latest album is a double-cd release comprising both their Heat Haze southwestern travelogue suite and their even more nocturnal Night Suite along with new material.

They’re headlining a great lineup tomorrow night, Feb 8 at around 10 PM at Public Records, that shi-shi monstrosity in the former Retrofret space north of Gowanus. As a bonus, deadpan and often hilariously lyrical new wave pop spoofers Office Culture open the night at 8ish, followed by the trippy electroacoustic trio of saxophonist Dustin Laurenzi, bassist Paul Bryan and drummer Jeremy Cunningham. Cover is pretty steep for a show like this, presumably $24 since the venue is one of many in Brooklyn who seem to be oblivious to the rising popularity of #cashalways and are still trying to make it with the goofy pennies-and-nickels online ticketing fad.

Both Suss’ Night Suite and Heat Haze got the thumbs-up here. The new tracks – the first several of which you can hear at Bandcamp – are just as drifty and evocative. Beyond Jonathan Gregg’s resonant pedal steel and spare dobro, it’s impossible to tell whether that’s Pat Irwin or Bob Holmes on the many other guitar and keyboard tracks. The first is a miniature, Winter Is Hard, rising from a delicate little piano figure to a flaring slide guitar peak and then out.

The band blend keening ebow textures, slow doppler effects, stalagmite piano drips and icepick reverb guitar incisions in North Wind. The most lingering thing in Linger is the gentle, precise acoustic guitar and the reverbtoned steel over the puffing, echoey loops in the background. Everything Is So Beautiful is steady and sad and Lynchian, and over too soon.

By now, the band are working variations on that initial crystalline three-note theme, notably in the rising and falling icy/hot textures of The First Thaw. Then they reprise Winter Was Hard with some unexpected timbres like autoharp and some gritty mechanical whirs.

At this point, you will have to switch to yucky Spotify to hear the rest of the record. Across the Horizon is aptly vast but peppered with warmly anticipatory fragments of blues and C&W riffs. The band warp the sustain a little in Ranger as a solitary acoustic guitar surveys the great plains, then in Shimmer (Reflection) they bring back the delicate quasar pulse: a distant Blue Velvet galaxy.

Holmes breaks out his mandolin and slowly works his way up in the mix in That Good Night. They waft their way out with the gentle phrases in The Open Door, shifting slowly through a characteristically twilit tableau.

The World’s Most Cinematic Guitarist Continues His Dark Dynasty

It was the spring of 2016, and cinematic instrumental trio Big Lazy had just finished slinking their way through a slowly simmering, increasingly macabre, chromatically slashing crime theme. The Brooklyn bar was packed, and people were dancing, notwithstanding the band’s somber, noir-drenched sonics.

Then guitarist Steve Ulrich took the mic and led the band through a brisk if somewhat wistful new wave song. Half the audience did a doubletake: a Big Lazy song with lyrics, in a major key, no less!

But fans of Ulrich’s signature blend of nocturnal bristle, deep-sky twang and white-knuckle improvisational scramble know that he has a completely different body of work. In addition to Big Lazy – the first band to top the best-albums-of-the-year lists here twice, in 2014 and 2019 – Ulrich does a lot of work in film and other media. His soundtrack to the artworld forgery documentary Art and Craft ranges from his signature, shadowy style to more lighthearted terrain. And now, he’s finally released a compilation of some of his most vivid and surprisingly eclectic soundtrack work from the NPR series This American Life, due to hit his Bandcamp page. Ulrich is celebrating the release of the album with a characteristically epic night on Feb 4 at 7 PM at the Sultan Room, playing a set with a string quartet, then bringing Big Lazy in to close the evening. The venue is easy to get to from the Jefferson St. stop on the L; like a lot of the trendier Brooklyn joints, they’ve become enamored of weird online dollars-and-cents cover charges, meaning that $26 cash should get you in.

On one hand, this is the great lost Big Lazy album. On the other, it’s more texturally diverse and slightly more lighthearted: the increased use of keyboards is a newer development for Ulrich. Typically, he’ll lay down a simple, muted riff and then judiciously add layers.

The first track, Earthly begins as a klezmer-tinged, lithely pulsing, delicately disquieted cha-cha, drummer Dean Sharenow spacing out his playfully counterintuitive hits, keyboardist Thomas Bartlett channeling a deep-space cabana with his lightly processed piano. Ulrich orchestrates bass and lapsteel into the mix as well.

The group slowly straighten out into a dark, wry strut in Handheld as Ulrich’s layers of skeletal guitar and resonant lapsteel mingle with Bartlett’s occasional roller-rink organ. In track three, The Swell, they trace a similar light-footed path, following a familiar Ulrich pattern, shifting almost imperceptibly out of the shadows into a sunny pastoral theme and then back.

Fellow Traveler is not a Chinese army song but a syncopated waltz with hints of dub and classic country, courtesy of Ulrich’s baritone guitar work. Surprise, Arizona is a Big Lazy concert favorite that first took shape in the wake of a 2019 tour, a stern Appalachian theme that diverges into mysterious sagebrush.

Ulrich’s sense of humor tends to be on the cynical side, but Rinse Cycle – the loopiest number here – is irresistibly funny and a good example of how far afield he can go from Big Lazy noir when he feels like it. He begins Housebroken as a forlorn bolero over Sharenow’s shuffling snowstorm beats: it’s the closest thing to Big Lazy here and the album’s creepiest song.

The most jazz-inflected tune here is If and When, a classic example of how Ulrich can take a whimsical theme and turn it inside out in a split-second, Bartlett shadowing the unfolding menace with his airy fills. The most brisk tune here is Unpretty, which is actually very attractive, in a delicate, melancholy vein

Bookworm turns out to be an apt coda, a bouncy swing tune where Ulrich flips the script on his usual trajectory. It’s still January, but Ulrich just might have given us the answered to the question of what the best album of 2023 is.

Long Overdue New Retrospectives From an Americana Cult Heroine

A half century before the Brooklyn Americana scene exploded onto a national stage, Mimi Roman was representing for the borough. Now in her eighties, she remains a beloved figure in the vintage country music demimonde. The scion of a Brooklyn Jewish pickle empire, she was an outdoorsy girl who grew up riding horses and became enamored with all things western, including country music. By the time she’d graduated college, she’d become an accomplished guitarist and a hell of a singer, won a big talent contest and went on to regional stardom in the emerging medium of tv.

Overcompressed digitized versions of her singles have been circulating on the web for years. But there’s never been a complete Mimi Roman album until this year, when Sundazed Music released the vinyl compilation The First of the Brooklyn Cowgirls, streaming at Bandcamp. The record begins with rare tv audio from 1954. It ends with a series of rare, low-key, often gorgeously nocturnal, mostly acoustic demos from late in the decade.

In general, the digitzation is very good, considering that much of the source material is wobbly old radio and tv clips and worn crate-digger vinyl. Many of these 35 tracks clock in at under two minutes. In the Nashville style of the era for female singers, Roman’s strong, expressive vocals are typically way out front, music in the back. These songs trace from the early 50s era of small groups with acoustic and electric guitar and fiddle or pedal steel, to a full-band rockabilly sound. Likewise, it’s a trip to hear Roman grow from a demure girl with an outer-borough accent to a polished, sophisticated frontwoman (check out her elegant jazz-inflected phrasing on the cover of Route 66 here).

The musicianship is often tremendous: there’s a mind-melting cyclotron pedal steel break in Bill Monroe’s Rocky Road Blues, purist honkytonk piano in places and lots of inspired fiddle and guitar picking.

The live material comes first. There are two versions of Weary Blues From Waitin’, an early theme for Roman which has a suspicious resemblance to a Hank Williams classic. The hazy, opiated cover of Folsom Prison Blues is chillingly brilliant. With its surprisingly risque lyrics, He’s My Marathon Man foreshadows some of her later material. And There’s No Holdin’ You is a tantalizing look at what Roman could do with a Memphis soul-tinged tune.

Wait, there’s more. Roman’s alter ego was Kitty Ford, whose much harder-rocking and often utterly bizarre 1961 album Pussycat has also been reissued on vinyl and is streaming at Bandcamp. The band – which includes piano, roller-rink organ, bass, electric guitars and occasional horns – scrambles and pounces, fueled by an uncredited, inspired extrovert drummer.

The title track is a proto Pink Panther theme. Things get seriously surreal in the faux-Middle Eastern Harry’s Harem. F.K.A. Roman gamely tackles proto-go-go soul, hi-de-ho Vegas balladry, campy proto Hairspray teen pop and bossa nova, with varying results. There’s also a faux French dixieland theme, a suspect stab at calypso and a regrettable phony cha-cha.

Frank Carlberg’s Brilliant New Album Evokes the Most Disquieting Side of Thelonious Monk

Is it possible that there have been a million Thelonious Monk tribute albums released to date? Maybe not, but it sure feels like that. Rather than trying to match an icon at his own game, pianist Frank Carlberg and his trio – bassist John Hebert and drummer Francisco Mela – have released a darkly playful, often haunting, spot-on album, Reflections 1952, streaming at 577 Records. It’s a highly improvisational take on many iconic Monk themes, inspired by the hat-wearing pianist’s iconic 1952 and 1954 Van Gelder studio sessions. There aren’t a lot of jazz pianists who really “get” Monk’s phantasmagoria – Fred Hersch is one – but for Carlberg, this is ripe territory for his signature, carnivalesque explorations. And as the song titles indicate, there are so many good jokes and quotes here that it would be just plain wrong to spoil them. Carlberg and the trio play the album release show on Jan 3 at Mezzrow, with sets at 7:30/9 PM; cover is $25 cash at the door

The opening number, Spherical Nightmares begins with a muted crash, flickers from the bass and drums. Carlberg scurries and pounces a little, takes a warm but stern detour into boogie-woogie, then backs away for a sepulchrally dancing interlude. It ends decidedly unresolved.

Carlberg’s daughter Priya contributes airy, similarly ghostly vocals on the second number, A Crowd of Gigolo, which comes across as a drifting, electroacoustic jam on America the Beautiful. Sweet and Sour, Pungent and Lovely has a loose-limbed swing: it’s as tongue-in-cheek jaunty as it is momentarily chilling, and Mela’s sotto-voce groove while Hebert dances around is priceless.

Getting to Trinkle is aptly titled: the three triangulate spacious and sprightly fragments of the famous theme, Mela and then Hebert pushing toward a flashpoint that Carlberg deviously resists.

Bemsha Cubano is an increasingly tasty, creepily tiptoeing cha-cha, Mela’s invigorating vocals notwithstanding. Carlberg ramps up the eerie Messiaenic belltones with vast expanses but also unexpected brightness in Some Things Foolish.

Paul Lichter contributes a distantly echoey spoken word pastiche of Monk quotes in Reflecting Reflections as Carlberg sagely and slowly cascades and ripples. See You Later is the most kinetically incisive number here, Mela’s rolls and frenetic hardware behind Carlberg’s insistent attack.

Nicknames is a catalogue of what writers have called Monk over the years, the trio dissecting Little Rootie Tootie with a spare pensiveness behind Lichter’s narration. The rhythm section playfully inch their way into Azure Sphere, Carlberg veering in and out of focus: the effect is just enough off-center to be utterly macabre. It’s the best song on the album – one suspects Monk would approve.

The trio close by reinventing Just a Gigolo with an utterly desolate Priya Carlberg vocal, poltergeist accents from the rhythm section and an increasingly dissociative crescendo. Is it too late to call this one of the best jazz albums of 2022?

A Darkly Evocative New Album and a December Tour From Michigan’s Whiskey Charmers

Over the past seven years, the Whiskey Charmers have established themselves as one of the most consistently interesting bands in the northern Midwest. They started out playing Nashville gothic, took an intriguing detour into dusky desert rock and then turned up the amps and expanded their stylistic palette on their 2020 release Lost on the Range. Their latest album On the Run – streaming at Bandcamp – is just as evocatively diverse. Frontwoman Carrie Shepard has taken her game up a notch with greater nuance and poignancy than ever, and her songs run the gamut from southwestern gothic to blue-eyed soul and even psychedelia in places.

David Roof’s bittersweet, echoey Rhodes piano drives the album’s first song, Nobody Cares, a soaring, Memphis soul-infused escape anthem with a trio of tantalizingly brief Lawrence Daversa guitar solos. He turns up the distortion and the bluesy grit for Billy, a murder ballad propelled by drummer Brian Ferriby’s churning attack.

Roof switches to acoustic piano for Water, a driving, crescendoing late Beatlesque soul ballad. The album’s big, epically swaying Old West cautionary tale is Gold, Daversa blending acoustic, electric and slide textures beneath Shepard’s honeyed but sobering vocals. Then bassist Daniel Ozzie Andrews’ bass mingles with Daversa’s Tex-Mex twang as Shepard paints a brooding picture of life on the road in The Devil’s Rodeo.

Daversa plays ominous spaghetti western leads over Roof’s lingering organ in Slumber as Shepard channels nocturnal unease. The band tackle slinky, psychedelic lowrider soul in Stop Running Your Mouth, a venomous kiss-off song. Daversa hits his analog chorus pedal for more Abbey Road sonics in Sucker, a simmeringly multitracked tableau.

“The truth doesn’t matter when all you know is lies,” Shepard intones in the album’s briskly pulsing, murderous title track: it’s the best song on the record. The final cut is Wrinkle, an understatedly plaintive, psychedelically tinged ranchera-rock chronicle of the ravages of time.

The Whiskey Charmers are currently on tour; their next gig is tomorrow night, Dec 22 at 7 PM at Birdfish Brewing, 140 E. Park Ave. in Columbiana, Ohio. Then on Dec 24 at 8 PM they’re at the Purple Fiddle, 96 East Ave. in Thomas, West Virginia; cover is $10.

Surreal, Disqueting Atmospherics and Lynchian Pop on the Debut Solo Album by the Coathangers’ Julia Kugel

Julia Kugel, frontwoman and guitarist of playful, punkish Atlanta band the Coathangers decided to make a solo record all by herself. Playing guitars, bass, keys and drums, she ended up with one of the year’s most consistently evocative albums. Her debut solo release, Derealization – recorded under the name Julia, Julia – is streaming at Bandcamp.

The opening track, I Want You is not the Dylan hit but a Lynchian pop tune. Disembodied Julee Cruise vocals? Check. Enough reverb on the drums to drive a truck through? Doublecheck. Sad, lingering reverb lead guitar? Triplecheck…and a little creepy glockenspiel for good measure

Kugel goes a lot further down the Twin Peaks rabbit hole with the second track, Forgive Me, squiggly electronics contrasting with her stately acoustic fingerpicking. She switches to piano for a meandering rainy-day theme in the brief instrumental Impromptu, then makes loopy Twin Peaks pop out of it in Fever in My Heart, which is more of a fever dream.

The drifting, dissociative ambience continues in Words Don’t Mean Much, outer-space vocals over a spare, echoey pastiche anchored by a simple, rhythmic acoustic guitar bassline. There’s a hazy sense of karmic payback in Do It Or Don’t, a brooding, swaying ballad: is that a brass patch on a synth, or is it a trumpet Kugel is playing over those elegantly mournful strums?

She follows the spare, fingerpicked waltz No Hard Feelings with the drifty, starry tableau Big Talkin’ and then Paper Cutout, a sparse, more atmospheric take on the cheeky, sly pop side of her main band.

Where Did You Go is the album’s most hypnotic track. Kugel brings the moody atmosphere full circle to close the record with Corner Town, a distantly rockabilly-tinged, otherworldly number that seems guardedly optimistic. Apparently Kugel’s alternate Twin Peaks universe is more complicated than just dead girls lying on a riverbank.