Mittens on Strings | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Mittens on Strings

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The members of this "Kentuckiana" collective are firm believers in collaborative songwriting--so much so that they've even designed a flowchart illustrating how they go about it. That approach led to the diversity of styles that popped up throughout the group's early singles and EPs, which in turn flowered into the full-blown schizophrenia of Look Up the Sky!! (Emperor Jones), their full-length debut. There's a swirling, churning, Paisley Underground feel to "G.I. Dirt Races," a dark, hypnotic quality to "The Most Complete Skeleton Ever Found," and a trippy back-porch simplicity to "Enter Mothership." The biggest danger with a band like this is the tendency to fall back on quirkiness once the ideas start running thin, but so far Mittens on Strings haven't taken a wrong step. Like Califone, their jamminess is playful and melancholic enough that the patchwork holds together like a warm and trustworthy coat. Good Stuff House and Zoo Wheel open. a 9:30 PM, Subterranean, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $5.

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