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Crooked Fingers

Fresh off mining the bottomless influence of Tom Waits and Bruce Springsteen over several swell albums, ex-Archers of Loaf barker Eric Bachmann and company turn to chiming, swoon-worthy Motown flair on the new-ish Forfeit/Fortune. Though blessed with blown-out reverb and shivering keys, the balance of seedy character studies and bubblegum boy-girl duets Crooked Fingers fans have come to expect remains. When you're not tapping your toe happily to a song called "Cannibals," you might find yourself drawn into the spooky salsa vibe of the Spanish-sung "No Me Lo Des!" or getting goose bumps over the strings-kissed heartbreaker "Run, Lieutenant, Run." In the end, it's not such a departure from records like Red Devil Dawn and high-water mark Dignity & Shame as much as an organic adoption of a few new tricks. The diversity is certainly welcome, and the occasional gypsy tinge lurking in the instrumentation will make a fitting complement to showier headliner DeVotchka.

 
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