New York Music Daily

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Tag: randi russo

Ellen Siberian Tiger Bring Their Smartly Lyrical, Eclectically Artsy Rock to Fort Greene

Philadelphia band Ellen Siberian Tiger play an enigmatic blend of dreampop, growly early Pixies-style anthems, and more delicate Americana and chamber pop-oriented material, all of it with an uneasy psychedelic tinge. Most of the songs on their album I Can’t Help It – up at Bandcamp as a name-your-price download – contain elements of all of those styles.They’ve got a gig at 10:15 PM (that’s what the calendar says) on Nov 29 at the Way Station in Ft. Greene. The venue, with its yappy gentrifier bar crowd and lousy sound, isn’t the most hospitable place to see a band, but since so many people are out of town this weekend, this might be the time to do it.

The album’s opening, title track risese from an elegant web of acoustic guitar fingerpicking to a swirly, crashing, electric dreampop chorus, a mashup of Linda Draper and the Cocteau Twins, maybe, with vocals closer to the former than the latter.

“I begin to end,” frontwoman/guitarist Ellen Tiberio-Shultz intones in her cool, clear voice in Sylvia, as the song rises from a swirly/jangly dichotomy crashing, anthemic heights. With the emphatic violins of Catherine Joy Parke and Drew Percy, I Smelled the Rain is a catchy mashup of newgrass and chamber pop:

You’ve got a heart like Cinderella but a curfew that you keep
Your love goes home at midnight but I’m losing sleep
But you have no glass slipper, no test for you to take
Even if the shoe did fit how long til it breaks

Likewise, Asleep in the River takes a brooding folk noir theme and takes it toward electric Jefferson Airplane territory, lit up with drummer John Cox’s hailstorm cymbal work: it brings to mind New York’s similarly eclectic Sometime Boys. “It only takes so many words to tell the truth and half as many to tell a lie,” Tiberio-Shultz reminds acidically. “Run to the river, throw me in, see if I float.”

Cuttlefish shifts back and forth between tempos,  Cox’s spiky banjo juxaposed against lush strings. Mrs. Pontellier is a blaze of haphazard cowpunk with a joyously fun Collin Dennen bass solo midway through, while Pine Needles comes acrosss as a blend of Surrealistic Pillow-era psych-folk and unsettled Little Silver jangle. When We Grow Up has dancing pizzicato violin to light up its moodily hypnotic Randi Russo-esque ambience and segues into the album’s final, most ornately psychedelic cut, Lion Hearted, rising out of deep-space ambience toward Radiohead majesty. This album is like an artichoke, with many tasty layers and also spines that will grab you if you stop paying attention for a second.

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The Grasping Straws Set the Mercury Lounge on Fire

The Grasping Straws packed the Mercury Lounge for the album release show for their debut full-length cd a couple of nights ago, treating the crowd to a performance that even by their standards was pretty pyrotechnic. Intense singer/guitarist Mallory Feuer’s band, which began as a collective with a rotating cast of characters, has solidified with a tight, dynamically shifting rhythm section of former Beast Make Bomb bassist Sam Goldfine and drummer Jim Bloom. This time out, they had Feuer’s brother Harrison – of Nobody Takes Vegas – snarling and wailing and machinegunning his way through volleys of metallic menace, then descending to a suspenseful jangle that he’d explode out of in a flash for more fireworks. Meanwhile, the bandleader didn’t even play guitar on the first number, wailing and shrieking, twisting and undulating, eyes closed, a shaman either banishing or mind-melding with some mysterious demon, finally ending with a slinky flip of the mic cable behind her back and then back around. It was dangerous in a lot of ways, not the least being that she might have spent all her bullets in the first four minutes of the show. Was she going to be able to keep that up for a whole set?

As it turned out, pretty much. As a singer, Feuer sometimes wields her vibrato like a metal guitarist, shivering and bending through the wall in the least likely places to max out the otherworldly factor. When she does that, she’s the blues valkyrie that Robert Plant always wanted to be. But more often, she just bends the notes a twinge – and then holds them there in a strange purgatory, letting the unresolved, enigmatic ambience linger, ramping up the suspense. The band took their time building to a sunbaked sizzle from rainy-day jangle in Going Going Gone. They followed with another jangly one, On the Line, from their more jazz-oriented early days, then took a volcanic stomp through the wickedly catchy Just a Memory, part minor-key Randi Russo menace, part early Iron Maiden, maybe – with Heart’s Ann Wilson out front, outraged.

From there they stampeded through State of Affairs, a surreal, distantly terrorized Hurricane Sandy tableau, then took a vividly overcast detour into Home, which began as brooding Laurel Canyon psychedelia and then exploded in shards of distortion and reverb on the chorus. Enjoy the Trip and Sunshine balanced bittersweetly nebulous jangle and clang with jaggedly noisy crunch. They closed with Who Do You Think You Are, taking a long climb upward to a blissfully mighty payoff on the chorus.

They also played a cover, an aptly insistent, hard-hitting cover of White Rabbit, Bloom leading the band through some deliciously subtle, tricky syncopation at the end – as one astute longtime LES music maven observed, it wasn’t Elena Zazanis, but it was pretty close. The Grasping Straws kick off their North American tour on July 11; dates are here.

The Bright Smoke Earn Comparisons to Joy Division

Lots of groups draw comparisons to Joy Division. Inevitably, all of them fall short. None of them can match that iconic band’s shatttering gothic art-rock grandeur…and nobody goes as far into the abyss as Ian Curtis. The Bright Smoke are a rare exception to that rule. In a way, their new album, Terrible Towns – streaming at Bandcamp – could be the great lost Joy Division album between Unknown Pleasures and Closer. Except that frontwoman/guitarist Mia Wilson doesn’t sound anything like Ian Curtis. However, she does have a powerful, angst-fueled low register, something akin to Cat Power without the affectations (ok, hard to imagine, but just try). She’s as strong a tunesmith and lyricist as she is a singer, and an inventive guitarist. Her songwriting is equally informed by oldtime acoustic blues and dark rock: other than the guys from Manchester, the new album occasionally brings to mind the live Portishead album. The Bright Smoke are playing the Cameo Gallery on May 19 at 9 PM; cover is $8.

As you would expect from such a relentlesly dark outfit, their songs are on the slow side, and usually in ninor keys. Beyond having a woman out front, the Bright Smoke distinguish themselves from Joy Division in that they’re considerably more swirly and psychedelic. Live, drummer Karl Thomas colors the songs with a terse, almost minimalist precision and the occasional jazzy flourish. Lead guitarist Quincy Ledbetter is a monster player, a master of texture and timbre, who although he has blazing speed doesn’t waste notes: if Bernard Sumner had started playing earlier than he did, he might have ended up sounding something like Ledbetter. Lately, for atmospherics, onstage the Bright Smoke have been including an electroacoustic element.

The album’s opening track, Hard Pander, could be Sade covering Joy Division. Wilson’s lyrics are enigmatic, sardonic, often imbued with gallows humor and this number is typical:

I don’t have to fake my inclinations
I don’t have to draw on my scars
You’re in over your head, girl
Pander right and pander hard

The way the bass rises, a low harmony with the wary, wounded guitar overhead in Like Video is a recurrent, artful touch throughout the album: this band really works every dark corner of the sonic spectrum. And Wilson’s cynicism is crushing:

I hear the Midwest stretches on for miles
And calls you back and it’s always on time
I hear it don’t have a past like mine
I hear the Midwest don’t have a voice to raise
Just settles down on her knees and prays
And makes you feel big in your small way
Baby, I’m in town today

On Ten also works a recurrent trope, Wilson’s elegant fingerpicking against layers and layers of lingering ambience, a savage dissection of Notbrooklyn ennui:

Join, join, join the ranks
Of the pretty, white, and jobless
And pray your daddy’s money away
At St. Sebastian’s School for the Godless

August/September is a diptych, the first part a plaintive piano waltz evoking Joy Division’s The Eternal, the second fueled by a menacing, echoing pulse that ends in crushing defeat: its quiet, sudden ending is one of the album’s most powerful moments. “There’s a bloody side to this, I don’t share your sunny disposition,” Wilson warns in Exit Door, with its wickedly catchy “You wanna know where the money comes from” mantra. Shakedown, a creepy roadhouse boogie in Lynchian disguise, brings to mind Randi Russo. “If there’s a game of losing friends…you and I would be Olympians,” Wilson broods.

Howl builds nonchalantly to an unexpectedly catchy, yet unpredictable chorus that would be the envy of any stadium rock band, a sardonic look at self-absorption lit up by a nimble tremolo-picked Ledbetter solo. City on an Island, with its watery chorus-box bass and 80s production values evokes early New Order and might be the album’s catchiest song. It might also be its most searing one, a kiss-off to a fauxhemian:

Good luck with your pylons
With your city on an island
And good luck with the small false hints
That you live the way I live

The album’s final track, simply titled Or, is a Mississippi hill country blues vamp, T-Model Ford spun through the prism of psychedelia and trip-hop, closer to the band’s stark, spare previous output than anything else here. Look for this around the top of the best albums of 2015 page in December if we make it that far.

A Darkly Entrancing New Album and a Shea Stadium Show from Opal Onyx

Opal Onyx sound like Portishead with a much better singer and more organic, imaginative, atmospheric production values. Frontwoman/guitarist Sarah Nowicki varies her approach depending on the song: her voice can be acerbic and biting, or misty and dreamy, or bloodcurdlingly direct. Matthew Robinson adds texture and terse tunefulness on cello, lapsteel and keys, while Heidi Sabertooth’s electronics enhance the otherwordly ambience. Rich Digregorio plays drums and Cedar Appfell joins on bass on the more propulsive numbers. While some of the tracks on their new album Delta Sands – streaming at Bandcamp – sway along on a trip-hop groove, others are more nebulous and minimalistic. It’s pretty dark music, and much of it you can get seriously lost in. They’re playing Shea Stadium in Bushwick on Dec 9 at 10ish, door charge TBA.

The opening diptych, Black & Crimson could easily pass for a song from the Portishead Roseland album, Nowicki’s eerie chromatics rising high over a staggered, loopy backdrop; then it hits a straight-ahead trip-hop sway. Personal is a big anthem:  the band takes elegantly fingerpicked electric and acoustic guitar tracks and loops them while swirling textures filter through the mix behind them, Noveller style. Likewise, Evaun makes stadium rock out of a darkly bluesy vamp – but keeps a tense, cinematic pulse going, quiet drums way back in the mix with the atmospherics.

Iron Age begins with a minimalist insistence, like Randi Russo as produced by Daniel Lanois, maybe – the music calms, but the menace persists as the echoing vortex grows thicker. Both Fruit of Her Loins and The Devil blend bluesy minimalism and eerie, chromatically-charged cinematics, Nowicki’s impassioned vocals sailing over the murk behind them.

Desperate also evokes orchestrated Portishead, but with cumulo-nimbus Pink Floyd sonics. Arrows Wing begins as folk noir before the rippling keys and atmospheric washes take it even further into the shadows. The album winds up with the stark Bright Red Canyons – just Nowicki’s acoustic guitar and vocals – and then the woundedly echoing title track. Fans of artsy acts as diverse as St. Vincent and My Brightest Diamond will love this.

Mesiko Reincarnate a Dangerously Delicious Psychedelic Sound

Two thirds of Mesiko – frontwoman/keyboardist/multi-instrumentalist Raquel Bell and guitarist David Marshall – first came together in Norden Bombsight, a relentlessly intense psychedelic art-rock crew destined for cult status in future decades. That band was together for a couple of years, played maybe a couple dozen shows, put out a single, brilliantly careening, noir-splattered album and then called it quits. Undeterred, Bell and Marshall went on to team up with another multi-instrumentalist, Ray Rizzo – a Randi Russo alum who’s one of the most sought-after drummers in rock – and created Mesiko to keep their distinctive, eerily surreal, psychedelic sound alive. Their bandcamp page – where their new album Solar Door is streaming – is tagged “rock chant folk noir psychedelic Brooklyn.” But they go a lot further than any of those categories would suggest, often in a single song: Marshall’s guitar multitracks are terse and elegant but also menacing, bordering on macabre. The Walkabouts make a good comparison. Mesiko are playing the album release show at around 11 at Bowery Electric on Nov 9 for a measly ten bucks.

Yellowbirds bassist Annie Nero plays the punchy, syncopated no wave-funk hook on the album’s catchy opening track, Hamptons BJ. “My magic number is infinity”, Bell deadpans as Marshall skronks around, early 80s style. Then they go all dreamy and echoey, then pull it all together with a late 70s glampunk strut. All that in just under five minutes.

Metronome mingles rustic acoustic and rippling electronic textures into a psych-folk groove that looks straight back to the Grateful Dead. Swamp builds from a slowly stalking, insectile intro to a nocturnally hypnotic sway that’s part Dead and part Norden Bombsight, then a creepy reverb-fueled southwestern gothic interlude.

Clint contrasts Bell’s stark vocals with Marshall’s more low-key delivery over brooding Americana-flavored psychedelia: “Is that how you got that ribbon and that scar?” Bell asks pointedly, Marshall ripping the lid off with a snarling reverb guitar solo a little later on. Lies takes a familiar Lou Reed theme and reinvents it with a punchier beat via Rizzo’s menacing tumbles and rolls, Nero’s neo-Motown groove and Marshall’s diamond-cutter tremolopicking.

Daphane’s Counter builds from spare, nocturnal country-blues ambience to a hypnotic paisley underground sway: the mantra is “that particular shadow looks like you.” I’m Harry Cleveland takes a brief, breathless departure into X-style punk rock; then the band methodically work their way from spacey atmospherics to an unhinged, funky pulse with Grey Room. From there they make their way through an unexpectedly poppy number spiced with jaunty baritone sax, then an equally successful detour into oldschool soul. They close the album with the distantly disquieting Mockingbird and its early 70s Pink Floyd resonance: “Put away the mockingbird inside your lungs, keep your cellular calls to a minimum,” Rizzo sings as the band rises to a squall. As psychedelic art-rock in 2014 goes, it doesn’t get any better than this. Is this the best album of the year? It’s one of the best half-dozen or so, no question.

Haunting, Atmospheric, Blues-Infused Intensity from the Bright Smoke

The Bright Smoke is the more-or-less solo project from Mia Wilson, whose raw, wounded wail and menacing minor-key songwriting made her previous band the French Exit one of New York’s most riveting live acts for a couple of years in the late zeros. Her songwriting on the Bright Smoke’s new album Virginia Et. Al. is more blues-infused, in the same vein as a young PJ Harvey but more atmospheric. Likewise, her vocals here are more low-key and world-weary but no less haunted and intense. The recording quality is lush yet direct: organic instrumentation, darkly enveloping sonics. Along with Wilson’s guitars and vocals, producer Q. Ledbetter adds guitar and bass tracks over lo-fi percussion samples and loops.

Wilson’s stark blues lines resonate with a rustic, haunting quality on the opening track, God Willing. “God willing the creek don’t rise,” becomes a mantra. “My hands are shaking,” Wilson intones as simple, biting guitar layers linger in the background like a coiled snake that’s about to strike.

Sea Level is the rare song that’s Joy Division-influenced without being slavishily imitative. With its ba-BUMP beat and catchy, mournfully bluesy melody, it also brings to mind the Stooges classic I Need Somebody. “Do you know what it’s like to wake up after trying not to wake up again?” Wilson asks. Slow Burn is slightly more upbeat, like the Banana Album-era Velvets taking a stab at a classic country song. The ache in Wilson’s voice is visceral as she waves someone away for good.

Pure Light is the longest, most hypnotic track here, the low resonance of Wilson’s voice contrasting with the guitars’ overtones, gentle but uneasy slides and creepily tinkling piano overhead. “Can you feel the wind come to make you wild again?” Wilson asks on the next track – but the answer isn’t clear, and it’s as if the wind she’s talking about could freeze everything over, again with a minor-key, minimalist Joy Division intensity. The last track, Free, is ostensibly a demo, but Wilson obviously knew she had a gem when she recorded it. It’s a dirge, just simple guitar, vocals and a piano drenched in natural reverb and enough out of tune that it maxes out the horror factor: “What a beautiful means to an otherwise painful end,” Wilson muses, a vivid elegy for someone who chose to kill himself or herself by drowning. You want intense? The Bright Smoke’s next gig is at Lit on Second Ave. at 8 PM on Jan 18.

Linda Draper Reinvents Herself Again

Last night Linda Draper played the release show for her new album Edgewise to an adoring crowd in the West Village, backed by the acerbic Matt Keating (who also produced the album) on lead guitar and piano and Eric Puente on drums. While Draper has made a career out of reinventing herself, two things, tunefulness and smart lyrics, have been consistent in her work, all the way through her transition from early-zeros acoustic rock songwriter, to mid-zeros hypnotic lyrical surrealist, to early teens Americana chanteuse. Her melodies linger in your head long after they’re over; her words will tickle you just as often as they snarl and bite. And her calm, airy voice, always a strength, just gets more and more nuanced and compelling. Throughout it all, she’s never given in to any kind of cliche, never succumbed to the temptation to coast on her looks and sing top 40 schlock even though the opportunity must have raised its ugly head at some point.

As expected, most of the songs were taken from the album. Draper brought to mind Eilen Jewell’s southwestern gothic with the bristling Live Wire, a dark Appalachian folk tune livened with Keating’s glistening noir piano. They kept the rustic menace going with the tensely pulsing Hollow, an entreaty to “get it out of your system before you become cold and numb,” to smash through the darkness and seize the fun lurking just beyond.

A jaunty, upbeat new number hinted at hip-hop with its rapidfire lyrics and bouncy swing. Then they went back to the brooding desert rock ambience with the cynical escape anthem Sleepwalkers: “Even the pureset of angels would crash and burn in a place like this,” Draper sang with an understated somberness. They followed that with the loudest song in the set, the new album’s bittersweetly triumphant title track. Draper usually plays solo acoustic shows: hearing her songs fleshed out this energetically, even roaringly, was a rare treat, especially on the Johnny Cash-influenced Shadow of a Coal Mine.

Bitterness and anger are not the only emotions that inform her music. She can also be very funny, as she was on one of the later numbers, In Good Hands, making the connection between backbiting trendoid one-upsmanship and yuppie conspicuous consumption. The crowd begged for an encore: she gave them a casually snide, animated solo acoustic version of the kiss-off anthem Time Will Tell, from her previous album Bridge and Tunnel. From here Draper is off to the Outer Space in Hamden, Connecticut for a 6 PM doublebill toinght, May 24 with underground folk legend Kath Bloom, then Club Passim in Boston on the 26th at 7 and then a killer doublebill with Randi Russo May 28 at 8 at the Township in Chicago.

A Roaring, Haunting, Angst-Fueled New Album from Shannon Wright

One of the most distinctive and purposeful guitarists around, Shannon Wright has a new album, In Film Sound, due out May 7. It’s every bit as dark and intense as you would hope for. Wright’s world-weary, exhausted vocals channel doom and despair over overtone-drenched, buzzing, roaring sheets of poisonous lead-grey guitar sonics. Millions of bands have tried in vain to capture the surreal menace that Sonic Youth immortalized on Daydream Nation but this album achieves it. Wright’s writing is a lot more succinct and lyrically focused than Moore, Ranaldo & Co.: the presence of a defiant, mud-splattered young PJ Harvey towers over many of these songs.

The opening track sets the stage with its layers of guitar, absolutely satanic, chromatic central hook and tricky rhythms. The Caustic Light reminds of Randi Russo with its hypnotic, vamping verse and overtone-drenched chorus. Tax the Patients works the political as personal, and vice versa, evilly trumpeting guitar buildling to a prickly, circular waltz theme. As it reaches fever pitch, Wright’s mantra is “try to accept this just a bit longer.” But do we have to?

Who’s Sorry Now sets what could be either keys or a guitar synth tune over echoing, dirgey drums, rising to an apprehensive swirl fueled by misty cymbal crashes. Bleed begins as a trance-inducing piano piece and takes on a Philip Glass-inspired creepiness, while Mire reminds of Thalia Zedek and her band  Come, dirgy bludgeoning riffage lightened unexpectedly by what sounds like the woodwinds sestting on a mellotron.

“Burst into flames, pieces on the ground,” Wright murmurs as Captive to Nowhere begins, skeletally, then exploding in a blaze of distorted guitars. The best song on the album, Surely, They’ll Tear It Down brings back the Randi Russo edge, this time as a slow, towering art-rock anthem, stately organ juxtaposed against a smoldering guitar melody: “Such waste, such decay,” Wright snarls. It could be sarcastic: an anti-gentrification broadside? The album winds up with  a dark harmonium theme playfully titled Mason & Hamlin (do they make harmoniums as well as pianos?). Wright is at the Mercury Lounge on June 7.

Video Dump Day #2 5/2/13

Damn, the May concert calendar is a whopper. Putting that thing together has become a weeklong project – so much good stuff coming up it’s almost suffocating. Of course, one of the most major and historic and intense events of the year – Wadada Leo Smith‘s three-night stand at Roulette – had to coincide with this project. In the meantime…time to empty the tank with all the freebies and singles and videos that have been kicking around the corners here like dust bunnies.

Here’s the Rotaries’ Before Leaving – a gorgeous, anthemic, singalong janglepop gem to kick off your summer. The vocals could be stronger but the band is kicking. Does anybody hear White Hassle in the distance?

Shannon Wright’s The Caustic Light is a pitchblende hypnotic minimalist Randi Russo style dirge from her forthconing album In Film Sound due out May 7.

Portland, Oregon’s Alelia Diane’s The Way We Fall sounds like Cal Folger Day with a chamber pop band (or a mellotron) – intriguing stuff from her forthcoming album Come Out Swinging due in late June.

If you’ve got a minute, hang with Mike Vial’s Reaching Back til this hypnotic jazz-pop number gets creepy. It reminds a lot of Lee Feldman in darker moments. And the piece de resistance:

“In honor of Obama’s Second Term, Neil Nathan Inc. releases the Jumpstart Music Video off their acclaimed Power 2 The People Concept LP, Sweep the Nation [very favorably reviewed here back in January]. And like any 21st Century profit minded corporation in Earth’s Global Village, they outsourced production to the tiniest of Asian Tigers, the Philippines.

In it, the Obama Twins, Hope and Change, drag race each other in an all out battle to see who will Win the Future. But obstacles abound in the form of  Fearless President Putin, Iranian President Ahmadenijad & His Nuclear Bomb, Angela Merkel & the Euro-Mobile, as well as the Republican Elephant & their radical counterparts, the Tea Party. But do not fret, for help is on the way from Israeli President Netanyahu, Chinese Leader Xi Jinping & His Gang of Dragons, and ultimately America’s Man of Steel, Super Bill Clinton.

Neil says the tune was influenced by Cheap Trick, Guided by Voices, and Iggy Pop, and is giving it away for FREE.”

Neko Case – Unstoppable in Lower Manhattan

Neko Case’s concert downtown on the water behind the World Financial Center Thursday night started late. Early in the set she explained gracefully. “Your sexy energy has created a Ghostbusters situation up here. Everything electric has stopped working, so we’ll be” – she searched for a split second for the word – “Apocalyptic.” Case’s stage monitors had blown out (or weren’t properly hooked up – what exactly happened, nobody seemed to know) before she ever took the stage. Were they even working as veteran soul man Charles Bradley, who preceded Case onstage, strained and strained to hit the notes throughout his set? Maybe not. Although visibly exasperated at being unable to hear much if any of themselves onstage, Case and her bandmates improvised as the show went on, switched out electric guitars for acoustic ones, changed the set list on the fly and in the process played a transcendent show. Case – “the girl with the amazing notes” as she sardonically but accurately described herself – warned the crowd that she was going to hit a few bad ones. “Oh no, I start this one,” she griped and then launched into a version of Wish I Was the Moon that she ended up hitting over the moon and whatever comes after that with some stratospheric highs to match those of harmony singer Kelly Hogan.

As riveting a chanteuse as Case is – like Paula Carino but with more range – she couldn’t do what she does without a brilliant band and that’s what this one was: John Rauhouse moving between pedal steel, guitar and banjo, Paul Rigby on guitar, Tom V. Ray on upright and electric bass and Kurt Dahl on drums. Case pulled out her gorgeous white Gibson SG tenor guitar for a couple of songs, taking a brief solo during a matter-of-factly chilling version of The Tigers Have Spoken that she obviously couldn’t hear, anxiously looking to Hogan for reassurance that she’d pulled it off. Hogan nodded approvingly and then playfully flipped her the bird after she’d finished – although Hogan delivered plenty of her own casually spine-tingling moments with that maple sugar voice of hers. It’s the perfect complement to Case’s quietly seething, nonchalantly sultry menace: the two are the ultimate noir vocal ensemble.

Case likes short songs, and that’s what most of the set was. She and Hogan held onto Teenage Feeling, defiantly trailing out the end of the chorus and thrilled the crowd with a torchily bittersweet Maybe Sparrow. By the time they hit the maneater chorus of People Got a Lotta Nerve, it was clear from the visuals if not the audio that there were sonic problems onstage. That didn’t stop Case from her guitar solo and all kinds of chilling nuance on The Tigers Have Spoken: “If he wanted to remember,” Case half-spoke, coldly sotto voce, for the caged beast in anyone who’d “lived that way forever” before being gunned down. Favorite, another audience favorite, was as sarcastically noir as expected, with an outro lit up by some practically Middle Eastern chromatics from the electric guitars. Ray bounced his bow off his strings for some scary overtones on a brisk, biting take of the bluegrass-flavored escape anthem Things That Scare Me and did the same later on a haunting, dirgey take of Knock Loud, a song that wouldn’t be out of place in the Randi Russo catalog.

Margaret vs. Pauline was all understated rage over gorgeously noir sonics; Hold On, Hold On, “co-written with the Sadies of Canada,” took on a towering, anthemic, Steve Wynn-style angst maxed out by the jangly reverb of Rigby and Rauhouse. Hogan cranked a music box and timed it perfectly to the vocals during a surprisingly creepy take of Middle Cyclone, which they followed with a pulsing new song with distant Velvet Underground echoes, Hogan explaining that it was “about dating your dad who turns about to be your mom.” The most tender place in Case’s heart is for strangers, so she suggested that audience members imagine her holding them to ease the darkness of the lyrics. Shortly after a lusciously lurid, bitter, harmony-driven Star Witness, they encored with Don’t Forget Me, Rigby taking centerstage with a tersely acidic, sostenuto noiserock solo. It was transcendent in every sense of the word for both band and audience: despite the sonic snafus, nobody was about to forget this one.

A word about Bradley – his vocals aren’t usually ragged like they were this time, probably the result of touring and trying to overdo it since he may not have been able to hear himself over the band. Who were stupendously good: from a distance, this Daptone crew looked a lot like the guys who usually back Sharon Jones. They were a time trip back to 1967 in the best possible way: nobody overplayed, the organ purred, the bass was smooth but sinewy, the horns punched in and then disappeared in a split second and the guitarist showed off expert command of every good, useful, emotionally vivid lick from that era. Bradley has been playing on and off at Bowery Ballroom and the Music Hall of Williamsburg lately: if oldschool soul music is your thing, he’s worth seeing – unlike the lame, cliched, kitschy Delaney & Bonnie wannabes who opened the show.