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I'm not exactly sure where New York's Begushkin fits in the current rock ecosystem, and to me that's always a good sign. The group's mastermind, Dan Smith, sings in a voice that likewise eludes categorization--it's a little too raw for the psych-folk tribe, a bit too majestic for indie-rock types. He sounds a bit like Will Oldham with most of the warmth sucked out, touched by the sharp whine of early Jeffrey Lee Pierce. The guitar interplay between Smith and Stephan Ryshkewitch reminds me of late-era Magic Band, and the songwriting feels a bit like Steeleye Span without the florid excess or Faun Fables minus the mystical shit.
On the recent King's Curse (Locust) the group tried a tougher, harder-rocking sound than on its debut EP, but the change didn't alter the basic approach--the band just sounds stronger and more confident. And I confess that even a couple listens through the record haven't been enough for me to decide what I think of Smith's evocative and occasionally portentous lyrics. ("Our eyes are like the tundra / Hearts are like the fume / Sleeping in the hollows of the trees," he sings on "Redhood.") Begushkin opens for Bonnie "Prince" Billy on Saturday night at the Vic.
Johnny Colon & Orchestra, Boogaloo Blues (Cotique/Fania)
Rob Wagner Trio, Rob Wagner Trio (Valid)
Linda Perhacs, Parallelograms (Sunbeam)
Ken Vandermark, Max Nagl, Clayton Thomas, and Wolfgang Reisinger, C.O.D.E.: Play the Music of Ornette Coleman and Eric Dolphy (Cracked Anegg)
Azita, How Will You? (Drag City)