Two for the show

There's a template for guitar/drum duos. First and foremost, play loud. Second, embrace the lore of the garage. Nathan Singleton and Jeremy Harrell are all over the first. But they trend more toward the blues side of things (Singleton's affection for the Resonator probably doesn't hurt there). These songs aren't so much anthems or bashers as they are fluid, changing beasts.

The Sideshow Tragedy
(Old Soul)

The adventurous nature of these songs really sets the Sideshow Tragedy apart from most duos. The sounds go almost everywhere. It helps that the boys aren't doctrinaire about their dual status; they have a few friends step in to fill out the sound now and again.

Some of these pieces are obvious winners. The first track (and first single) "Number One" is a balls-out bluesy asskicker. I'm more partial to things like "Keys to the Kingdom," which falls somewhere between Otis Taylor and Slint--though much more kinetic than both.

I'm always listening for intensity. Some of the quietest albums are wrapped up tighter than a diamond. This is not a quiet album, though Singleton and Harrell aren't afraid to go straight acoustic if the vibe calls for it. It is, though, one of the most driven and energetic sets I've heard in some time. When the pedal is released even just slightly, I realize just how much adrenaline has been flowing.

These boys have been around for some time, and this is their fifth set together. That's easy to hear. Each knows what the other is going to do, and their interplay is invigorating. I have no idea where to stick this stuff in the genre blender, but I really don't care. Let's say it's "good music" and call it a day.

Jon Worley

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