Wednesday, February 21st, 2007
“The Sweet Hereafter” is more than just the name of Jesse Sykes’ band – it’s actually a very fitting descriptor of her music. That is, if your idea of the afterlife is sitting alone at the end of the bar in a dimly lit, smoky roadhouse at last call. The smokiness is essential to the mental picture here, because that’s what Sykes’ voice sounds like – a mouthful of smoke. It’s certainly a bit of an acquired taste being several degrees beyond husky, but if you’re attuned to its emotional frequency it hits like a choir of angels.
Sad, solemn and weary beyond words – yet somehow not a total downer – Sykes’ third record Like, Love, Lust & The Open Halls of the Soul does well to cement Sykes’ candidacy as the reigning queen of alt.country noir. It sustains a mood of regret and longing for pretty much its whole running length and while that can certainly get a bit heavy, Sykes has the perfect foil in the guitar of Phil Wandscher. The former Whiskeytown axeman is the perfect complement and counterpoint to Sykes’ forlorn meditations providing delicate atmosphere or muscularly twangy riffing as necessary. The two really do have a musical chemistry that’s rare and impressive to behold.
Sykes talks to New City Chicago about the writing process of behind the new record,
Harp about what she calls “emotional McCarthyism” and The Stranger about pop and guitar solos. She’s currently on tour with Sparklehorse and will be stopping in Toronto this Friday night at the Mod Club (congrats to Elva, Vicky and Bob on winning passes to the show).
Philadelphia jam-happies Dr Dog will be at Lee’s Palace on May 2, their new album We All Belong is out next Tuesday and they’re the featured act on Daytrotter this week. Meanwhile, strange, eclectic and… strange sister duo Cocorosie will be in town on May 14 for a show at Lee’s in support of their new record The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn, due out April 10. Billboard has details.