Reigning Sound | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Reigning Sound

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For most of the 90s Greg Cartwright was hailed as garage rock royalty, fronting raw Memphis combos like the Oblivians and the Compulsive Gamblers. So Time Bomb High School (In the Red), the new album from his latest band, Reigning Sound, caught me off guard. Cartwright seems to pointedly turn down the volume and broaden the range of styles to include Merseybeat, blue-eyed soul, and rickety country twang. But listening back to those other bands reveals that Cartwright's always had catholic tastes. Most of his bands covered similar turf; it was just hard to hear through the grime. His shift toward country and folk rock was labored on Reigning Sound's 2001 debut, Break Up, Break Down (Sympathy for the Record Industry), but Cartwright's settled into his new sound. He's overcome the limitations of his voice, so now every stretch of flat singing and each flubbed note marks a human soulfulness. And the band's straightforward arrangements propel the music without cluttering it. Cartwright has never done anything remotely original; his is the music of a hopeless fan. But from his Liverpudlian "Stormy Weather" to the raggedy garage pop of "Reptile Style" to the folk-rock gem "Dressy," this aural love letter to his favorite records rings true. Baseball Furies open. Thursday, October 3, 10 PM, Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont; 773-281-4444.

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