Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog | Constellation | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Image

When: Tue., May 28, 9:30 p.m. 2013

Your Turn (Northern Spy) is the second and best album by Ceramic Dog, the knotty rock trio led by guitarist Marc Ribot. The group’s 2008 debut, Party Intellectuals (Pi), felt a bit slick and chilly, but the new one—with raw, vibrant production by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier—is elbow deep in blood and grit, and Ribot sounds his most inspired and concise, even on extended solos. Supported by bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Ches Smith, he skips among genres and tropes without sounding at all dilettantish: a sort of punk-blues hijack of 60s rock (“Lies My Body Told Me,” about struggling against the procreative impulse), furiously swinging instrumental surf rock (“Your Turn”), quaint rocksteady (“Ain’t Gonna Let Them Turn Us Around”), early jazz (“The Kid Is Back!”), and even a version of Dave Brubeck’s “Take Five.” Ribot is at best a serviceable vocalist, and when he crosses over from his usual crankiness into outright bitterness—most egregriously on “Masters of the Internet,” an artless rant about musicians getting screwed by online piracy—it’s hard not to cringe, even though the sentiment is understandable. Luckily, though, he lets his guitar do most of the talking. He’s built a career by flouting expectations and yanking the rug out from under his own music, but in Ceramic Dog he often leaves well enough alone—and even when he does take things sideways, it’s easy to hang on for the ride. —Peter Margasak

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