With Strand of Oaks and Gatlin Elms, 8 p.m. Friday, December 2, Fitzgerald's (Downstairs), 2706 White Oak, 713-862-3838 or fitzlivemusic.com
After a ten-year run fronting Chapel Hill indie luminaries Archers of Loaf, Eric Bachmann and company stepped away from the limelight at the height of the band's popularity. Now, having spent just as much time creating music as Crooked Fingers, it would seem that Bachmann is pretty comfortable in his own skin. Steadily pushing away from the noisy caterwaul of the Archers, Crooked Fingers has become an increasingly interesting experiment; Bachmann has gone from sparse, tortured troubadour to embrace a worldlier, more gypsy-esque vibe. In contrast to the obscure lyricism that made up a good chunk of the Archers catalog, Bachmann has now taken on the storytelling/songwriter role, unapologetically guiding the listener through both bright, golden-tinged days and sinister, India-ink-hued nights.