Crooked Fingers - Dignity & Shame
For a guy who spent a decade in a band whose name invoked images of Robin Hood firing flaming arrows at steaming Nottingham turds, Eric Bachmann's music sure is purty, as evidenced by the latest album from Crooked Fingers (Bachmann's current nom de tune). Dignity & Shame leads off with "Islero," a bold and suspensful instrumental that sounds like something Cantinflas might listen to on his ayeayeayeayePod en route to a Mil Mascaras cage match. Mariachi horns aren't the only brilliantly incorporated instruments peppered throughout Dignity & Shame, as healthy portions of piano, lap steel, and conga only help to further enrich the sonic pallet.
Despite invoking such a wide array of styles, Dignity & Shame is immediately accessible, due in large part to a series of fantastic duets with silky-voiced siren Lara Meyerratken. "Call to Love" has the greatest potential to break big, though "Twilight Creeps" may have even more staying power. There's also plenty of raucousness to be had here, such as a deliciously reckless guitar solo unleashed during the last third of "Destroyer," the irresistable junkyard hoedown "Valerie," and the bad-ass bassline that propels "Coldways." There isn't a single sub-par moment on this entire album, though the title track just may trigger an interpretive dance by Ace and Gary at any moment. It's gonna take one hell of an album to knock this from the top spot in 2005.