Release Date: Oct 7, 2008
Record label: Constant Artists, Inc./Red Pig
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Crooked Fingers fans who enjoyed Eric Bachmann's 2006, bare-bones acoustic To the Races LP, yet yearned for the kind of heavily orchestrated, E Street Band-fueled Americana that graced 2003's Red Devil Dawn and 2005's Dignity and Shame, will no doubt be pleased by Forfeit/Fortune. Picking right up where Shame left off, Bachmann, along with an all-star cast of characters which includes longtime collaborators as well as indie rock stalwarts like Brian Kotzur (Silver Jews), Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa), and Neko Case blow through an 11-song set of dusty, horn-laden, highway driving, drink-spilling heartache that stands as the group's most solid piece of work to date. Opener "What Never Comes," a fully loaded showstopper that comes on like a cross between David Bowie's "Heroes" and Bruce Springsteen's "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," sets the pace, and from there it's an unusually wild ride from a bandleader who often favors straight-to-tape authenticity over studio experimentation.
So it’s come to this. Eric Bachmann, once one of the most beloved members of the indie-rock scene nationwide, has completed his gradual transition to what is essentially an adult-alternative sound. Crooked Fingers was always a vehicle for Bachmann to display his more streamlined tendencies, to offset the quirks of Archers of Loaf. But the newly mainstream sound comes after Bachmann declared Wal-Mart to be the Great Satan.
Eric Bachmann’s post-Archers Of Loaf outfit makes music in an unpredictable mix of styles, from 2000’s woozy, strings-laden self-titled debut to 2005’s Spanish-inflected song cycle Dignity And Shame. Forfeit/Fortune finds Bachmann’s muse on a shorter leash, and though fans of his tendency toward noise and sprawl might have reservations about its poppier tone, Crooked Fingers’ fifth LP is the band’s most upbeat release. For all its guest appearances (Neko Case, Silver Jews’ Brian Kotzur and Devotchka’s Tom Hagerman), the album’s overall sound is tight and consistent.