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Friday, 13 January 2012 15:54

Concert review: Yankee Racers highlight 'Duologue' with an eclectic mix of tunes and an array of regional musicians at Off Broadway, Thursday, January 12

Concert review: Yankee Racers highlight 'Duologue' with an eclectic mix of tunes and an array of regional musicians at Off Broadway, Thursday, January 12
Written by Will Kyle

Austin band Dry Season opened the night with a set of a neo-psychedelic soundscapes. The instrumentation was nicely supported by the ethereally reverbed-out and delayed vocals of Madelyn Carr.

While Dry Season could not be more stylistically different from the aesthetic wanderings of Yankee Racers, the Texas group nonetheless pinned downed a tight set.

Soon after, Yankee Racers took the Off Broadway stage in support of their new record, "Duologue." St. Louis' Curt Brewer played guitar and sang, while Chicago's Nathan Jatcko (both from Kentucky Knife Fight) worked the piano. On "Smoking Gun," Brewer invited Morgan Nusbaum of Bruiser Queen to sing. The tune wove electric guitar, piano and a fat hook as Nusbaum's roadhouse vocals conjured girl-punk and bluesy rock in one sweet, well-annunciated swoop.

After the song, Brewer announced, "Our new record is a peculiar project. Nate and I have been working on these songs for five years, so they may be stylistically different." I'm sure both men identify this generic play -- call it artful mania -- as the very thing that makes Yankee Racers such an amazing project. On "Duologue" Yankee Racers have created a sound outside of each musician's (as well as the duo's own) comfort zone.

"Morning Train" featured Brewer on vocals engaging in a leaving song, which shaded histrionically sweet toward its ruby climax. The shaker and finger picked acoustic twisted nicely into a heady bass drum stomp, which (thanks to Jatcko's piano work) suggested Ben Folds with ease.

Seth Porter of Blind Eyes and Cassie Morgan of Cassie Morgan and the Lonely Pine sat in on "This Love." The female vocals mixed with Porter's timbre; the vibe reminded me of the New Pornographers meets the sun-soaked territory of the Thrills. The chorus proffered thoughtful heartbreak: "Now this love of ours is hanging by a lonely string. Just a word has the power to turn it around, to change everything."

Jason Holler of Kentucky Knife Fight sang a cover of "Telephone," originally performed by the Black Angels. The song was rife with back-bayou bluesy underpinnings, monster-mash organ, '50s, diner-style-slicked-back-hair and Holler's signature raspy vocal drawl. On "Bastogne" Holler remained on stage as Brewer's post-rock guitar propelled the track. The verse's double hi-hat rolls struck a tight contrast between the serene piano and swirling "ohhs and ahhs" of the chorus.

Brewer promised the striking "Fled" would be on the next record. During the song, Brewer's pedal board malfunctioned and caused the troubadour to restart the penultimate bridge of the song. The hiccup was handled with grace, finesse and a playful smirk.

"Moonlight Mouth" awakened a bluesy openness blended with bubbly pop and regretful melody. "Nightmares By the Sea," originally by Jeff Buckley, set the tone for Yankee Racers' last two songs, though the vocals were drowned out by the chunky, over-driven electric guitar.

David Beeman from Old Lights sang on a shimmering version of "The Note." Yankee Racers should be proud of this track's effort as it most clearly displays the band's impressive chameleonic ability.

"Fall Away," the band's final song, featured Nathan Bernaix of So Many Dynamos and began with acoustic guitar, pedal tones and Bernaix's silky voice reminiscent of the intonation of City and Colour's Dallas Green. The song swelled with electric guitar and turned into an indie-barnburner.

Yankee Racers released their CD "Duolouge" (grab it at Bandcamp) to a room full of snow-wary supporters. The show was an aesthetically diverse success.

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