Touted as “Nashville’s most fucked-up country band” by their label Merge Records, Lambchop was arguably the most consistently brilliant and unique American group to emerge during the 1990s.
Their unclassifiable hybrid of country, soul, jazz, and avant-garde noise seemed at one time or another to drink from every conceivable tributary of contemporary music, its Baroque beauty all held together by the surreal lyrical wit and droll vocal presence of frontman Kurt Wagner.
Since the 1990s Lambchop has evolved into an accomplished ensemble, adding palpable depth and substance to Wagner’s songs — and the band sounds as commanding as ever on its 11th album, Mr. M, a collection of meditations on love and loss and the detritus of everyday existence.
Lambchop | Gar
Even so, something of that playful boast from long ago remains at the heart of everything the group has done since then. Lambchop may not sound in any conventional way like a country band, and yet the essential spirit of country music — the sound of someone just trying to make sense of life’s little ups and downs — remains present in its music.
As on past Lambchop records, many of the songs on Mr. M are framed with lush strings, and there’s a restrained undercurrent of distortion and discord. The core of the music remains the cyclical picking of Wagner’s guitar and the soft, warm croaking of his voice.
Mr. M is dedicated to the late musician Vic Chesnutt, a friend, fan and collaborator, and a prodigiously gifted musician in his own right.
Chesnutt’s influence looms large in Lambchop’s music: in particular, his way with words, and his uncanny ability to wrap them in music that says even more than the lyrics alone can.
Thursday, 23 February + Friday, 24.02. 2012 | 20:00 CET
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