Psychedelic folk has never caught on in a big way in the United States, where woodsy pagan mysticism just can’t compete with the self-conscious urban/suburban modernity of rock ‘n’ roll. Drag City’s one of the few American labels with a decent track record for marketing the stuff, and having done OK with the likes of Damon & Naomi and Ghost, they’ve recently released the third album by Faun Fables–the alter ego of west-coast singer-songwriter Dawn McCarthy. Last year’s Mother Twilight was a wanderer’s album, inspired by a trip through Europe, but on the new Family Album McCarthy seems to be visiting a childhood unsanitized and uncensored, chasing after beauty with a sort of animal ferocity. When she and steady collaborator Nils Frykdahl (of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum) duet, they’re a primal Richard and Linda Thompson without the remorse. Their crooning and shrieking would degenerate into noise (and not the good kind) very quickly were it not so oddly perfectionist: the intricate webs of chiming guitars and overlapping voices provide an Apollonian structure for the peaks and valleys of Dionysian lullabies. This weekend McCarthy plays a solo set at Schubas (with Spires That in the Sunset Rise opening) and a free in-store at Reckless. Next Saturday she and Frykdahl open for Cheer-Accident and Sleepytime Gorilla Museum; the Dresden Dolls play first. Friday, March 5, 7:30 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508. Saturday, March 6, 1 PM, Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway; 773-404-5080. Saturday, March 13, 8 PM, Bottom Lounge, 3206 N. Wilton; 773-975-0505.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Katherine Copenhaver.