Crooked Fingers, Strand of Oaks Early Warnings (Music) Recommended Soundboard

When: Fri., Nov. 11, 10 p.m. 2011

I admit, I haven't paid much attention to Crooked Fingers lately; for a while the music Eric Bachmann was making with his long-­running post-Archers of Loaf solo project felt too baroque and mannered. But the new Breaks in the Armor (Merge) drew me in right away with its raw immediacy and lean instrumentation, which Bachmann recorded with the help of longtime collaborator and new girlfriend Liz Durrett. The album's opener and best song, "Typhoon," glides over rudimentary drums and cranky electric guitar riffs, with a bittersweet melody that's almost tender—over the years Bachmann has learned to temper his rheumatic croak, though Durrett deserves some of the credit for her pretty backing vocals. The plaintive tracks in the middle of the album recall Tom Waits's early piano-driven ballads (early Crooked Fingers efforts, by contrast, remind me of Waits at his most bilious and gruff), and more than ever Bachmann appears to let his songs follow where his lyrics lead. He tends to ruminate on characters damaged by impulsiveness or weakness, and on the ways they try to get right—and the stripped-down music fits his themes perfectly. —Peter Margasak Strand of Oaks opens.

Price: $15

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