Rodriguez, Plush | Lincoln Hall | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Rodriguez, Plush Member Picks Early Warnings (Music) Sold Out (Music) Soundboard Recommended

When: Thu., Sept. 20, 9 p.m. 2012

You might like to think that their music alone is enough to get your favorite acts their due, but more often than not it's a narrative that rescues them from obscurity. Take Detroit singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez, who released two eccentric folk albums decades ago—1970's Cold Fact and 1971's Coming From Reality—and then dropped out of the music biz. He hit the Billboard charts last month, though, and therein lies a tale. Rodriguez's profile has been slowly rising for years—Light in the Attic reissued both his albums in 2009—but the latest spike in interest is thanks to a popular new indie documentary about him, Searching for Sugar Man. Though Rodriguez's records flopped here, unbeknownst to him they caught fire in Australia and South Africa (where Cold Fact went platinum). He ended up touring down under in the late 70s and early 80s, but he didn't find out he'd become a South African star (and a figurehead for the antiapartheid movement) till the late 90s; he toured that country for the first time in '98. The soundtrack to Searching for Sugar Man—the record that finally landed Rodriguez on the charts—is a best-of compilation that highlights his taste for soulful melodies, sparse arrangements, and unorthodox aesthetic choices. The opening track, "Sugar Man," is a standout, balancing a taut string section and erratic squeals of feedback atop a simple acoustic-guitar hook—and leaving enough room up there for Rodriguez's solemn, sighing croon to soar. —Leor Galil

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