In the 1960s, instrumental rock bands were common, and a select few persist to this day. (The Ventures are definitely still worth seeing.) Then that British Invasion (Beatles, Stones, etc.) happened, rendering instrumental bands hip as pompadours.
But in the past decade or so, bands with little use for words have proliferated: Tortoise, Don Caballero, Los Straitjackets, to name a few. Add to that list the Chicago-area collective Unwed Sailor. Consisting of core seamen Jon Ford (bass) and Nick Tse (guitar), with honorary shipmates culled from Early Day Miners, Roadside Monument, and Blenderhead, this particular Sailor is more a seasoned, introspective traveler than a boisterous nautical type. In the tradition of symphonic music, many of its compositions impart a "narrative," minus any heavy-handed classical overtones -- 2001's The Marionette and the Music Box relates the tale of a puppet's quest, corresponding to 17 pictorials within the disc's artwork. Unwed Sailor accomplishes a delicate balancing act between the rustic tendencies of Neil Young on one side and the atmospheric, impressionistic approach of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois on the other. One thing's certain: They won't do "Pipeline" or "Frankenstein" as encores . . ., but that's OK. Have them shiver your timbers at the Grog Shop this Tuesday anyway.
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