A collision of alt-country vixen Lindi Ortega’s snappy sass and Dusty Springfield’s soul-baring belting, Rachel Kate piqued interest as lead vocalist of Charleston’s rail-jumping, rollicking (and now defunct) rock ’n’ roll outfit Shaniqua Brown. Her 2013 debut solo LP With Love & Hate ditches the raw guitars and radical rhythms of SB for a stripped-down but still-intense mix of accordion, jangly acoustic guitar, shuffling drums and richly sawing cello. The result is like sweet tea spiked with ’shine, a concoction of sizzling ‘n’ sleazy Delta blues, fragile country waltzes, Nick Cave’s spindled and mutilated murder ballads, the hazy goth afterburn of Lee Hazlewood and a nostalgically sunny down-home tune penned by her father, Dave Gillon. Singing about optimism and rejuvenation along with “crybabies” and “somber assholes,” Kate splits her solo disc between paeans to love and outpourings of anger. Taking the stage in tattoos and a hand-sewn country craft dress, Rachel Kate evokes the hardscrabble Americana folk of Gillian Welch, the cow-punk tension of Cary Ann Hearst and the classic theatrical country of Patsy Cline. No paper-thin drama queen, Rachel Kate has plenty of authentic brass and compassion.
FAT FACE BAND
The Fat Facers feature three of the city’s better musical minds in a super-group of sorts. Trumpeter Matt Postle, tuba sensation Molly Jay and axe-slinger Troy Conn all exhibit the requisite chops on their respective instruments, and the unlikely instrumentation typically draws an initial “Hey, look at that crazy combo” reaction. But without the ability to mesh all that together into a cogent and compelling whole, none of that would matter a whit. Thankfully, the trio is fluent in the language of improv, turning simple onion skins into coherent musical conversations with each other. Unlike many current free-formers, though, the trio tethers their improv flights to melody and rhythm, relying on the contrast to provide the goods — which it does.