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coverpic flag US - North Carolina - Full Moon 102 - 01/25/05

Crooked Fingers
Dignity and Shame
Merge

The 4th full-length from these Seattle by-way-of North Carolina 90s vets is going to be "Bachmann's masterpiece", accoding to Nasty Little Man, the marketing engine for Crooked Fingers. I have to admit that I've had over the years somewhat of a love/hate relationship with Mr. Bachmann's music, but it's pretty cool that he was a one time Sax major at my own humble little hippy college, Appalachian State. I'm totally ready for a Bachmann Masterpiece, you better not be lying to me Nasty Little Man!

My favorite Crooked Fingers' album prior to this is their S/T debut. "Crowned in Chrome", "New Drink for the Old Drunk", "Broken Man", "She Spread Her Legs and Flew Away" and "Under Sad Stars" are all classic songs for me. Bachmann used a take-it-or-leave-it voice to sing lyrics of the bizarre and sad variety. Saw them live one time in Raleigh, and I'll be damned if the bass-fiddle player didn't take his shoes off right there on stage and stamp the beat on the FLOW. Also, seeing Bachmann pick up-close completely solidified my belief that he is a damn fine guitarist.

Let's adventure into this new one. My hopes are high and low at the same time. I won't be surprised if it signals the end of my fascination with Bachmann, also won't be if it rejuvinates my old-time fanboydom for him.

The album opens in a very promising way. Sparse guitar notes linger. Here's a tom, there's a bongo. The production is clear and good. Shit, there's that picking. I love that, for sure. And then a trumpet melody. Not so sure if I'm liking the trumpet melody or not, actually. Bachmann has been writing movie soundtracks lately, and i think it may have informed his instrumental writing a bit. The first song ends abruptly, leaving me feeling a bit odd. Not too shabby little intro though, honestly.

We finally hear his voice and poetry as the second song begins. It's, as usual, very high in the mix. It doesn't sound like age is treating Bachmann's voice very kindly. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad one yet. This is a short little song called "Weary Arms", seemingly written to the same rebellious youth he always wrote to. The sentiment is a little suspect, perhaps, but this song is actually good advice if you listen. The only thing that sounds grossly unfortunate in this song is the "La Dee Dahs" he sings half-way through.

"Call to Love" sports a sound strait out of 90s indie rock and roll, which I like a lot out of this band, however I begin to worry a little bit during "Twilight Creeps". There's this new inflection Bachmann's into on this album that is really starting to turn me off. It started with the "La dee dahs" earlier. It's this thing that sounds like something Jack Black would have sung in Bongwater, and it really kills me. The shitty trumpet melody comes back in this song. I just don't know. This song sucks. "Destroyer", which is a good name for a song (but even better name for a band), unfortunately just perplexes. And I simply dislike the way the music drops out and he dramatically says "destroyer" before taking us through the breakdown. Then there's the verses, which are all monotone. Maybe there was a brilliant concept behind this song at some point, but the way it came out, it just doesn't make much sense.

Thoroghly worried at this point, I move on to the next song, and find myself bored. Dammit. Next. Next. Hey, there's a big bubbly bassline, that's neat... can someone tell me why Bachmann has lost his melodic sense? Is it the movie composing? Too much John Williams or something?

I've gotta move out of this hippy town. And I'm giving up being a Crooked Fingers fan for now. Parting ways tastes like blood and the desert.

My final word: if you're a Bachmann fan, yeah it's worth hearing. A lot of people might even like this album. But if you're new to the Bachmann/Crooked Fingers/Archers of Loaf phenomenon, it's not even with it.

Copyright © 2005 Bill Banks e-mail address

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