I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the fantastic double bill of Crooked Fingers and DeVotchka playing down at the Rialto Theatre tonight.
I'm going in new to DeVotchka, so this is really a Crooked Fingers / Eric Bachmann post. Tonight will be the fourth time I've seen the band, and lately I've been absolutely soaking up Forfeit / Fortune, easily one of the best records of 2008 and, along with Dignity & Shame, the band at its peak.
In fact, I'd rank Eric Bachmann right up there with Jeff Tweedy, Craig Finn, David Berman and a few others as the top songwriters in the general indie rock field. For just one exhibit, check out "Man O' War," from his 2006 solo record:
This is the type of pin-drop song that can freeze even an unfamiliar crowd in rapt attention, which is exactly what Bachmann did opening for a devoted Neko Case crowd at the Rialto back in August. I missed the Crooked Fingers' last swing through Tucson (stupid Guy Toronto and his stupid wedding), so tonight has been circled on the calendar since the show was announced a couple months ago.
Forfeit / Fortune is a full-band affair, with the type of exotic flourishes that Bachmann has gravitated to more and more on the last two Crooked Fingers albums. Folk elements more Spanish in origin are everywhere, and while he doesn't really hit that Eastern European thing that DeVotchka has going for it, I do sense a kindred approach in recombining very different musical styles into a new and unique sound.
Bachmann has about three different singing voices, from an increasingly more seldom used falsetto to the yelp he used mostly on the Archers of Loaf albums to a gruff, almost Neil Diamond-esque vibe.
The slower songs lean on Bachmann's intricate finger-picking style, but the band also busts out some straight-ahead rockers, most notably "Cannibals" and "Your Control," featuring guest vocalist Neko Case, who I'd love to see join Bachmann on more projects.
Crooked Fingers - Your Control
Crooked Fingers - Phony Revolutions
And check out Crooked Fingers' session at Daytrotter.