Chandra and Leigh Watson, genuine twins originally from Louisville, initially leapt to attention via Rabbit Fur Coat, their 2006 collaboration with Rilo Kiley singer Jenny Lewis. An EP followed, and now there's Fire Songs (Vanguard), their full-length debut. Straddling folk, country, pop, and rock without an apparent particular allegiance to any of them, their canny synthesis almost sounds like a thesis for contemporary rootsy pop. Behind the Watsons' close harmonies is an atmospheric wash full of subtle hooks and scattered touches of psychedelia, pedal steel, jangly folk-rock electric guitar, and even a touch of pop noir punctuated with horns. And their knowing cover of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven" fits like an organic pea in the pod. Brooklyn-based Tim Fite has railed against consumerist greed, given away an entire album for free, dabbled in hip hop and folk (sometimes at the same time), and sampled albums he finds in bargain bins. So it's not surprising that his latest, Fair Ain't Fair (Anti-), contains all that and more. Its sprawling tracks range from what sound like drunken nursery rhymes to chamber folk played by Appalachian hip-hoppers, along with massed vocal harmonies that sound like the Beach Boys at a hootenanny in the Bronx. With his clever wordplay loosely dealing with consequence and remorse, catchy melodies strewn through quirky textures and contexts, and cut-and-paste approach, Fite comes across like a kindergarten savant with visions of the apocalypse. 21+.
Fri., July 18, 8 p.m., 2008