THE FOR CARNATION
It could be argued that the For Carnation sprouted from a single tune on Spiderland, the 1991 album by leader Brian McMahan’s old band Slint. “Washer,” on which a barely legal McMahan sounds more like a kid who’s lost his lollipop than a man expressing his most intimate emotions, was nonetheless his first real attempt at the ultraquiet style that he’s struggled since the mid-90s to perfect. On the recently released The For Carnation (Touch and Go), he may have succeeded. McMahan’s vocals still don’t float my boat: his lyrics are cryptic, and his calm talk-sing delivery gets rather tedious. But the band, which this time around includes McMahan’s brother Michael, Retsin and Sonora Pine veteran Todd Cook, Bobb Bruno and Rase Mandel from Polar Goldie Cats, and Steve Goodfriend of the Radar Brothers, sounds like Isaac Hayes on ice, meting out slinky but restrained cinematic grooves, and the recording, engineered and mixed with the help of John McEntire, achieves a breathtaking spatial depth: each time a new sound enters the subdued fray–the ominously strutting strings on “Emp. Man’s Blues,” the fleeting guitar filigrees on “A Tribute To”–you can feel it as well as hear it. It should be interesting to see if the band can re-create this dynamic balancing act live, but I’d recommend finding a comfortable seat early on. Town and Country, whose music is also best absorbed from a chair, and Speed to Roam open. Friday, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600. PETER MARGASAK
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Noel Soltzman.