This is a great pairing of utterly idiosyncratic songwriters, each with a virulent cult following. Jonathan Richman's lengthy career reaches back to the early '70s, when he led the proto-punk/art-rock Modern Lovers, strongly influenced by the Velvet Underground but with Richman's quirky, outsider, visionary songs at its core. Subsequently he settled into a mystique of whimsical naiveté, at his best finding profound truths in simple observations made provocative by their very guilelessness. Growing maturity has added another bittersweet layer to Richman's songs, which retain a sense of wide-eyed wonder on his forthcoming Because Her Beauty Is Raw and Wild (Vapor). But he also probes deep philosophical territory on songs like "When We Refuse to Suffer" and "As My Mother Lay Dying." Vic Chesnutt is also a ferociously honest songwriter, but when he grapples with demons he's as likely to howl as lurk in quiet, Southern, gothic shadows. His latest, North Star Deserter (Constellation), ricochets between ominous near-whispers and cacophonous, reverb-heavy rages against the limits of mind and flesh, spewing artful bile in apocalyptic elegies.
Fri., March 14, 8 p.m., 2008