After about six months of listening to it, I’m convinced that what the Vulgar Boatmen’s first album, You and Your Sister, is about is a half century of American music. You hear it in the country blues cadences of “Cry Real Tears,” the Buddy Holly hand claps in the title song, the lyrical tips-o’-the-hat to the Band on “Katie” and Ronnie Hawkins on “On the Street Where You Live,” the Velvet Undergroundy power-strumming on “Drive Somewhere,” the pretty musical homage to R.E.M.’s “Camera” on “Hold Me Tight” and so on and so forth. Songwriters Robert Ray and Dale Lawrence are potent fans of popular culture: in this context, You and Your Sister’s whimsical Americana and shattering atmospherics resonate in your brain like distant bells: they give the record its exquisite feel of half-remembered bursts of emotion from a long time ago. Live the band is weird: Ray doesn’t tour, and Lawrence’s moving, delicate voice has to carry the show. Give it a chance, however, and it will: combined with the magnificent dynamics of “On the Street Where You Live” and “Margaret Says” it winds things up into chest-thumping climaxes. The two-night stand at the Elbo Room is with another band from Indianapolis called Datura Seeds: the Boatmen open the show on Friday but will play two late sets on Saturday. Tonight and Saturday, Elbo Room, 2871 N. Lincoln; 549-5549. Saturday, 3:30 PM, Reckless Records, 3157 N. Broadway; 404-5080.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/S. Harris.