Nap Eyes, Cian Nugent, Matchess | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Nap Eyes, Cian Nugent, Matchess Recommended Member Picks Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Image

When: Sun., April 3, 9 p.m. 2016

On their strong new album Thought Rock Fish Scale (Paradise of Bachelors) Halifax quartet Nap Eyes trim an already lean sound as a pair of scrappy strummed guitars carve out tentative spaces for singer Nigel Chapman’s quasi-poetic ramblings, done in his best bored Lou Reed persona. But that description doesn’t do justice to the combo’s infectious, homespun sound, which conveys a special kind of intimacy that invites you in. The songs seem to grapple with being stuck in the town where you grew up, and the narrators yearn for something they don’t have the wherewithal to go after. Some of the lyrics are hopelessly convoluted and confused, but the honesty they strive for together with the group’s unfussy music make the album as special and appealing as anything I’ve heard this year.

Irish guitar whiz Cian Nugent turns singer-songwriter on his new album Night Fiction (Woodist). Over the course of three previous records he’s expanded his solo fingerstyle roots into a rich fantasia of group-oriented jazz, rock, and even ragtime. Unfortunately his singing ability is no match for his guitar playing and in fact detracts from the more interesting things surrounding it, whether it’s the surprising soul modes on “First Run” or the crystalline, post-Tom Verlaine tones he plays on “Nightlife.” When he keeps his mouth shut, as he does during most of the chugging Motorik frenzy of “Year of the Snake,” there’s nothing to get in the way of his guitar mastery.

Peter Margasak

Price: $10

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