The Crack Pipes waft into town from Austin, Texas, packing oodles of that humidified southern nuttiness that bands like Tyler Keith's Preacher's Kids, Bassholes, and Reigning Sound have intoxicated the garage fringe with the last few years. Aside from the usual 12 bars and tales of broken hearts, their shlubby swamp blues is laced with some '70s funk licks, saxophone bits, and even some politicking on their latest, Beauty School. They're best when they stumble into spare, wandering-ballad territory or try unexpected instrumentation, like lonely violins and sloppy sax. The band is intriguingly twisted, but never near as transcendent as its Roky Erickson template. The bandmates are just as drunk, though, so expect a blessed mess.
Columbus's Tough & Lovely may as well be dubbed Cleveland's Tough & Lovely, as the group has made quite the habit of gracing Brownstown stages. And why not? The proletarian edges of the band's '60s dance-party style -- hard-drinking, hard-touring, and solid rock drumming -- have always kept them at elbow's length from the capital city's indie-rock preferences.
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