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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Friday night tears, beers

Friday night’s show in Gardner is cry-in-your-beer music. That’s probably fine—that dank basement has been sweated in enough for a semester. Let’s add some tears to it.
Seattle-based The Duchess and the Duke, the headlining band, sound like the dark side of sixties music. The three-piece features two veterans of the Northwest garage-rock scene, which gives their acoustic, minor-keyed songs a jangly, loose edge. You can hear the detached anger in Kimberly Morrison’s howl and the snarl in Jesse Lortz’s. Their female/male leads (which give the band its name) sound unfiltered, like an early Rolling Stones LP spinning clumsily on a cheap record player. Their songs of heartbreak and loss ask lovers and friends where they might go after loss, how they might cope.
Recent song “Daggers,” recorded with opener Greg Ashley, epitomizes this loose feeling. A lead melody that could slip in nicely next to “Paint it Black” or “Get Off of My Cloud” frames a chorus that goes, “There’s a face that’s begging for it/ There’s a dagger in my hand/and I don’t want to put it in your heart.” These lyrics go down hard, like sipping a cheap glass of whiskey on a cold Iowa night. Many of the lyrics actually read like the above simile, in fact. However, that feels somehow right—the gritty production and the surprisingly delicate way that Morrison and Lortz match their leads make them sound more like a resigned couple than a homicidal one.
Ashley, on the other hand, often seems closer to totally unhinged, a contemporary of the weirder seventies psychedelic scene. His music is still raw and acoustic, but it often has a ghostly, echoing sheen that recalls other isolated aesthetes like Syd Barrett or Jeff Magnum. His song “Apple Pie and Genocide” pretty much sounds as weird as the title and features handclaps, distorted guitar and yelling under a steady blues riff and a solid yelp from Ashley.
We all know finals and hell week are gonna be tough. But dancing is not the only catharsis. Come moan a bit at 9 p.m. in Gardner, and you might just be ready to waltz the next night.

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