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Crooked Fingers

Throughout the '90s, the Chapel Hill rock combo Archers of Loaf recorded some of the more popular tunes transmitted over college radio airwaves, perfecting a shambling, tuneful, frequently experimental style of rock that endeared them to young smart white listeners who bought CDs by Archers peers like Pavement, Superchunk, and Built To Spill. After the group disbanded in 1998, singer Eric Bachmann changed his tune considerably, throwing away the distortion pedals and employing plenty of guitar fingerpicking for his new solo project, the boozy, often countryish Crooked Fingers. Recruiting a small group of friends to help him record his new material, Bachmann shaped graceful drinking songs (or perhaps drunkards' songs), full of poetic self-loathing and surprisingly elegant and minimal instrumentation, songs which Bachmann, with his ruined, desolate voice choked with sun-flecked dust and grit, sounds born to sing.

Bachmann debuted his new brand of sepia-tinted back porch indie rock blues with an eponymous 2000 LP which he recorded with help from Brian Causey of Man or Astro-man? Just a year later, he put forth a second Crooked Fingers album titled Bring on the Snakes, going it completely alone this time. In 2002, Crooked Fingers released the Reservoir Songs EP, an outstanding covers project featuring well-chosen classics by Kris Kristofferson, Neil Diamond, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, and Queen, each injected with Bachmann's now-trademark variety of bleary, raggedly melodic rural discontent.