Atmospheric or plain dull? | Bleader

Atmospheric or plain dull?

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I was mildly impressed by the 2003 debut from Brooklyn’s Last Town Chorus—essentially a solo project of singer and lap steel guitarist Megan Hickey—for the way it crafted a highly atmospheric kind of urban noir from an instrument associated almost exclusively with country music. In a short piece I wrote in 2005 I feared that her sound could easily calcify into pure formula, and although the press seems to be eating up the forthcoming Wire Waltz, due out on March 6, Hickey has lost me. I mean, it’s not easy to make Mazzy Star sound energetic, but Last Town Chorus has done it.

Hickey has a plaintive, dusky voice, but it lacks flexibility and depth, and when it’s all said and done her lap steel playing is equally dull. Without the help of reverb and delay pedals you’d almost think she just started playing the instrument. A cover of David Bowie’s “Modern Love” not only gives the early 80s dance hit LSC’s trademark narcotic treatment—which has too rapidly become a stylistic albatross--but it eviscerates the song of just about everything, save a dreary reading of the melody. Last Town Chorus plays Schubas on Friday, January 26; former Jayhawks drummer Tim O'Reagan opens. If you go make sure you bring a comfy pillow.

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