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Clairy Browne & The Bangin' Rackettes CL Recommends

When: Wed., Dec. 4 2013

Both brassy Sharon Jones-styled R&B soul shouter and Amy Winehouse-channeling retro jazz pop crooner, Australian Clairy Browne fronts a down-under nine-piece that suggests the illegitimate love child of the Commitments and a B-Movie “bad girl” gloss on the Shirelles. Amid the sweat, shimmy, sequins and hairspray lurks an archly theatrical, John Waters-ish sense of absurdity, so it’s fun when the Rackettes embrace their camp noir esthetic, slinking and sliding into a gloriously hokey girl-group-meets-crime-jazz swagger. Yet this fab-trash esthetic puts a distance between Browne and the raw emotions of her songs, making a Rackettes gig a show in every sense of the word, complete with contrived story arcs and obvious emotional pay-offs. Browne’s barnstorming vocals, her band’s gritty guitar and skronking sax chops and an appealingly sleazy David Lynch feel only partially offset the artificial vibe. Yet, this air of performance art doesn’t completely undercut Browne when she stretches for the lofty ache of her inspirations. Despite the kitsch and clutter, Browne still manages to embrace the sincerity, tunefulness and integrity of old school R&B, evoking the heartbreak and soul inspiration of Etta James. (Pat Moran)

4.7 out of 5

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