By Mike Hughes
Photos by KB
The estimable Eric Bachmann is on the road again with Crooked Fingers to support the release of the band’s fifth full-length album, Forfeit/Fortune. This marks Bachmann’s first recording since his tremendous 2006 solo debut, To The Races (reviewed in HT’s December 2006 issue), and the first Crooked Fingers release since 2005’s Dignity and Shame.
Interestingly, Bachmann, the former frontman of indie rock icons Archers of Loaf, decided to release Forfeit/Fortune independently – despite his association with a number of (presumably willing) labels (Warm, Merge, Saddle Creek). As a result, the album will only be available online, at shows and on the shelves of a few independent retailers. This makes the album release tour that much more important. So, off Crooked Fingers went, spreading the word roomfuls of several hundred people at a time and, in a very real sense, singing for their supper.
Forfeit/Fortune was officially released October 7th, 2008 – the same day we caught Crooked Fingers taking the stage at New York City’s Webster Hall in support of Austin’s own Okkervil River (CF will be headlining a number of shows out West later this month and into November).
Crooked Fingers – a foursome in their current incarnation – began with a few old favorites before giving the crowd seven tracks off the new album. Standouts included a “Crowned in Chrome” opener (from their self-titled debut album), the brand new “Let’s Not Pretend,” the country tinged duet “Your Control” (the studio cut of which is even more impressive as it features Neko Case alongside Bachmann) and the show’s closer, introduced as “an old Archers of Loaf song,” “Web in Front.”
While the sound in Webster Hall left a bit to be desired, Crooked Fingers nonetheless managed, as they always do, to transfix the audience with a splendidly confounding panoply of sounds discordant and melodic, resonant and evanescent, jubilant and despondent. A remarkable poignancy emanates from this band and the listener is often left in an earthy haze of questions and contradictions. And while it is not euphoric, it can certainly be more rewarding.
It has been said – namely by me – that Eric Bachmann is hands down the best songwriter you’ve never heard of. And, at the moment, Crooked Fingers is the best vehicle to showcase his considerable skill.
For more information on the tour and the new album, Forfeit/Fortune, head to [link|http://www.crookedfingers.com/|crookedfingers.com].
And, for those keeping track of such things (you know who you are), here’s the set list for the Crooked Fingers Webster Hall show October 7th, 2008:
“Crowned In Chrome,” “New Drink For The Old Drunk,” “Islero,” “Let’s Not Pretend,” “Luisa’s Bones,” “What Never Comes,” “Give And Be Taken,” “Modern Dislocation,” “Cannibals,” “Your Control,” “Web in Front.”