Crooked Fingers | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Crooked Fingers

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CROOKED FINGERS

Eric Bachmann was not just the front man for the popular Archers of Loaf but also the auteur behind Barry Black, whose self-titled first album remains one of the most worthwhile indie-rock side projects ever (though the same can't be said of the follow-up, Tragic Animal Stories). Those two ventures sounded nothing alike--the Archers were sheer six-string snarl, Barry Black was a humorous sound experiment--and not surprisingly this project has a life of its own as well. Crooked Fingers (Warm) is a quietly disquieting debut that evokes the Pogues circa Rum Sodomy & the Lash without the cheerful sense of community and the surreal character sketches of Rain Dogs-era Tom Waits without the gonzo attitude. Bachmann, never the world's smoothest crooner, sounds like he's gargling buckshot on "New Drink for the Old Drunk" and "Man Who Died of Nothing at All" (Archers fans will note that he still has a way with a song title). The album's acoustic arrangements, heavy on plucked and bowed string instruments, are as lovely and gritty by turns as Bachmann's singing, and his tune sense is still strong, particularly on the lovely "Juliette" and "She Spread Her Legs and Flew Away." The 90 Day Men headline. Saturday, 10 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

MICHAELANGELO MATOS

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