Lambchop, Paper Hats | Maurer Hall, Old Town School of Folk Music | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Lambchop, Paper Hats Recommended All Ages Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sat., Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m. 2009

“My stuff doesn’t make sense even if you have the words,” says Lambchop main man Kurt Wagner in the PR for the group’s latest album, OH (Ohio) (Merge). Many of his lyrics leave me scratching my head, but the absurd and convoluted free-associative logic that connects his quirky couplets—combined with his straight-faced delivery—has long made Lambchop’s already exquisite music truly unique, sometimes gently funny and stingingly poignant in the same instant. Few other songwriters could start with a prosaic description of a pencil and end up writing a meditation on a woman who understands her man despite his trouble expressing feelings in words. Wagner’s phrases and images can pack a punch even in isolation, whether they’re beautiful (“All the leaves have turned to leather”) or silly (“So what’s your problem, what’s your beef / I’ve got this gap between my teeth”). His slightly uncertain baritone usually forces his excellent band to play the diffuse, R & B-ish arrangements at a whisper, so that the one spot on the new album where they really crank it up—the coda of “Popeye”—is almost frightening. For this relatively rare performance Wagner leads a five-piece band; the Paper Hats open. —Peter Margasak

Price: $20, $18 members, $16 seniors and children

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