Shrimp Boat | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Look, I'm lately feeling a little sick of rock 'n' roll, OK? Sick of studied "rebelliousness," sick of black leather jackets, sick of bands selling "passion," "edge," and "redemption," and sick of fame-hungry guitarists trying to be mysterious and sexy. And believe me, when the entire rock 'n' pop scene starts to sound like just a lot of boring, unoriginal noise (rappers excepted, of course), bands like Shrimp Boat become that much more precious. I admire the deliciously paradoxical way Shrimp Boat's music, superficially so raw and jagged, opens up to reveal a childlike gentleness at its core. This elusive feeling is captured particularly well on their wonderful new LP, Speckly, a record that makes no sonic compromises--which may not get these soft-spoken guys anywhere careerwise, but which is nonetheless (dare I say it?) beautiful. On it you'll hear songs of Appalachian nursery-rhyme simplicity being spun off into beguiling variations blessedly free of wimpiness, sarcasm, and the excessive rock 'n' roll boom-thwacking that so often takes the "folk" out of folk-rock. It's true that Shrimp Boat may not be a band for everyone--a lot of what they do is musically "wrong"; and while I find their tortured-cat falsetto harmonizing inexpressibly engaging, it might strike other ears as hopelessly amateurish. Likewise, I'll admit that when bassist David Kroll doubles on tenor sax, he sounds more like a Pribilof seal than King Curtis--but the strange sounds that come out of his horn seldom fall to bring a smile to my face. Anyway, the important thing is that this is real music, not just four assholes trying to be cool. At least--knock on wood--I hope not. Tonight, Edge of the Lookingglass, 62 E. 13th; 939-4017. Saturday, Phyllis' Musical Inn, 1800 W. Division; 486-9862.

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