Wednesday, October 8th, 2008
Give And Be Taken
Photo by Patrick Marold
Eric Bachmann has worn many hats over the years. He started out as the hard-barking frontman of angular ’90s college rock heroes Archers Of Loaf. He then reinvented himself as the lonely troubadour on the first couple Crooked Fingers records, terrain he revisited on 2006’s gorgeous solo effort To The Races. And with the last couple Crooked Fingers records, in particular 2005’s sublime Dignity & Shame, he proved to be just as capable as a lush pop artisan and bandleader. And now on his latest effort Forfeit/Fortune, which once again finds him operating under the Crooked Fingers banner, he decides to be all of the above – simultaneously.
Perhaps as a reaction to the singular starkness of For The Races, Bachmann has crafted one of his most eclectic and fully-arranged records – one that manages to incorporate aspects of his entire career from gruff-voiced Archer-esque numbers to somber, solo-ish pieces, while still treading some completely new sonic territory. The heavy-handed production might be a point of contention for some, utilizing decidedly un-Bachmann-ish touches like drum machines and synths.
Those more left-field tangents give Forfeit/Fortune a certain, “WTF?” quality and in some cases probably distract and detract from the songs themselves but those instances are thankfully rare. It may be a bit dizzying, but the Forfeit/Fortune experience is a good one. The overall flavour isn’t too far from Dignity & Shame, maintaining that record’s Spanish accents if not its cohesiveness and adding some Balkan influence for good measure. It’s also a bit back-loaded with the best material, culminating in a stellar duet with Neko Case. Bachmann fans might find themselves a bit off-balance listening to this latest record, but there’s still plenty solid to hold on to.
Crooked Fingers are currently on tour with Okkervil River and will play the Phoenix this coming Sunday night, October 12 – to which I’m giving away passes. New City Chicago, The Hartford Advocate and Crawdaddy have interviews with Bachmann about Forfeit/Fortune, which was released yesterday. It’s streaming in its entirety as Spinner and comes in both standard and deluxe CD formats, the latter of which comes with a documentary DVD amongst other goodies. Check out the trailer.
Neil Young could take a lesson or two from Dylan in archive-digging efficiency. No Depression reports that to no one’s surprise, the release of Archives has been delayed from this Fall until January or February of 2009… sure. Whatever. As a form of compensation, Bad News Beat reports that another Archives live set circa 1968 and entitled Sugar Mountain will be released on November 28. Neil is playing the Air Canada Centre on December 4 and 5.
Noah & The Whale are coming back to town for a date at the El Mocambo on December 9. The band have been keeping a tour diary from their just-completed North American jaunt at LiveDaily and Seattlest interviews frontman Charlie Fink.