Music » Music Features

Sound Advice

The Flyer's music writers tell you where you can go.


At first glance, local singer-songwriter S.J. Tucker (aka Skinny White Chick), with her long brown hair and petite frame, looks like a nice, shy girl -- the type of girl who lives in your apartment complex and only quietly mumbles hello when you run into her in the parking lot. But when she straps on her acoustic guitar and opens her mouth to sing, you can see her almost morph into a magical fairy creature with a voice so bold she demands the attention of all the animals in the forest.

On Sunday, March 28th, she'll be releasing her first full-length album, Haphazard, with a kick-off party at the Beethoven Club, followed by an after-party at the Memphis Lesbian and Gay Community Center.

Oft-compared to Tori Amos, Ani DiFranco, and Joni Mitchell, Tucker's music is a mix of haunting lyrics and folksy guitar. She classifies herself as a pagan singer-songwriter, and many of her songs touch on goddess-oriented, Earth-worshipping themes. Think of it as the equivalent of gospel music, minus the out-of-tune congregation and bad choir robes.

Tucker first picked up her mom's guitar at age 3 in her hometown of Dumas, Arkansas. By 12, she had learned to play, and at 14, she wrote her first song. Before her move to Memphis in 2001, she recorded a six-song demo to hand around town. She was quickly discovered by Zarr Entertainment, which helped her put out another demo. The sales of that demo provided her with the funds to record Haphazard.

She's now flying solo, handling everything from marketing her CDs to arranging and promoting her shows, and she says Sunday's show promises to be the biggest one yet. So, head on over to the Beethoven Club, sit back, and be enchanted. -- Bianca Phillips

Many artists have attempted to mine the rich musical tradition of Weimar Germany. The Doors brought the music of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht into the rock idiom, and after her voice became ravaged and raw, Marianne Faithfull became perhaps the greatest modern interpreter of Weimar-era song since Lotte Lenya. With the release of Swordfish Trombones (and later The Black Rider, Alice, and Blood Money), Tom Waits proved that he was a master of this style, with a ragged sound as modern as it was primitive. But even the incomparable Waits was still doing an imitation of the original masters.

The Dresden Dolls -- a jarring but brilliant piano and drum duo with powerful female vocals and a remarkably sophisticated song bag -- have embraced the lurching, angular rhythms of Weill/Brecht and the decadent spirit of post-WWI Berlin, but there is nothing retro or imitative about their sound. Blending willful silliness with pathos and a ravenous carnality, they comment on modern love, hate, and everything in between. And they do so in ways both grand and unexpected. "Coin Operated Boy" is hands down the most whimsical ode to loneliness since Mo Tucker sang, "If you close the door, the night could last forever." If you're sick of the same-o, don't miss the Dresden Dolls when they play the Caravan on Friday, March 26th.

If you've been looking for a band that can conjure up the spirit of the Voidoids, the Velvet Underground, and maybe even a little bit of Motown all in the span of one two-minute pop assault, then you'll want to see The Ponys at the Hi-Tone on Friday, March 26th, with The Lost Sounds. Or for a similar kick you might want to make the CD-release party for The Used To Be, who slouch a little more in the direction of the Dead Boys. They'll be at the Hi-Tone on Saturday, March 27th, with The Subteens. If, on the other hand, you've been looking for a group that kinda-sorta reminds you of the Cult, then you've got to see Yes No Maybe at Newby's on Saturday, March 27th. For something completely different, there's Dani Linnetz, who sounds a wee bit like Natalie Merchant doing a tribute to every folk-tinged chick-rocker of the 1990s. She'll be at Java Cabana on Friday, March 26th.

Halfacre Gunroom may not be the next big thing in Memphis, but they should be. Irresistible Southern-flavored pop melds seamlessly with traditional country influences (think Big Star meets Haggard) to create a sound that is altogether unique in the Mid-South. To make a fairly lame comparison, Halfacre has the same appeal as early R.E.M., and their shows are positively jubilant. They will be at the Young Avenue Deli on Friday, March 26th, with Dex Romweber of Flat Duo Jets fame. Go give these new kids on the block a little love. They'll give it right back. -- Chris Davis

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