Califone, Angela Desveaux | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Califone, Angela Desveaux


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Califone has always thrived on odd juxtapositions of sound and style, and their new Roots & Crowns (Thrill Jockey) is the apotheosis of that approach--it reminds me of those marvelous accidents where the noise of a radio stuck between stations is more interesting than any one broadcast could be. Even so, it's their most polished recording: engineer and onetime member Brian Deck gives each of the individually processed sounds its own place, but they never take precedence over the tunes, which are as sturdy and memorable as centuries-old folk songs. "Rose Petal Ear" is a great example of how they pull it off. Its core is a duet of Tim Rutili's falsetto vocals and Jim Becker's rustic banjo, sounding like Prince gone Appalachian. But bright, digitally shattered guitar scrabbles, murky analog synth gurgles, and reassuringly ragged hand claps weave in and out of the tune, coloring its emotional fabric without obscuring the overall design. --Bill Meyer

Montreal singer-songwriter ANGELA DESVEAUX claims Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch as key influences, but her debut album, Wandering Eyes (Thrill Jockey), gives a smart, glossy pop finish to old-fashioned country. She does wonders with her thin voice--her style's similar to Laura Cantrell's--and her hooky songs recall the melodic grace of Rosanne Cash's early work. --Peter Margasak

Califone headlines, Angela Desveaux plays second, and Peter & the Wolf opens. a 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 866-468-3401, $10 in advance, $12 at the door.

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