Esben & the Witch, Wise Blood, Family Band | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Esben & the Witch, Wise Blood, Family Band Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Thu., March 10, 9:30 p.m. 2011

Goth music has long been passe in the musical vanguard, and it's been decades since the heydays of Siouxsie & the Banshees, the Cure, and Sisters of Mercy. But for a certain subset of sun-averse, makeup-abusing folks, the genre never died, and those obsessive fans ought to love Esben & the Witch. Hailing from Brighton, England, and named after a grim Danish fairy tale, the much-hyped trio doesn't look particularly goth, but they've got the style down pat. Their debut album, Violet Cries (Matador), quickly demonstrates its allegiance to goth's original postpunk wave—descending bass lines, flanged-out guitar in metroniomic arpeggios, and front woman Rachel Davies's sweetly melodramatic howls. When the music hovers serenely, it suggests PJ Harvey sitting in with the Cocteau Twins; when it goes full throttle, it's like a more feral Siouxsie, with claustrophobic drum machine and thick reverb replacing the Banshees' faux-tribal beats. The trio has mastered the style's sonic palette, but not the harder task of coming up with memorable songs—dark, churning grooves might be all they're trying to write, but they're not enough for me. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10

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