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Mark Eitzel 

With Low. Friday, October 4, at Dionysus Club in Oberlin.

Mark Eitzel
  • Mark Eitzel
Like the Screaming Trees' Mark Lanegan and the Afghan Wigs' Greg Dulli, former American Music Club songwriter and vocalist Mark Eitzel has a husky baritone that gels nicely with his literate lyrics of emotional self-evisceration. Tales of drunken abandon and the inevitable laments that follow, once liquor's cloudy veil evaporates, don't hit so poignantly when recounted by a wispy, brittle voice. They need the bulk and grit of smoke-stained vocal chords that reek of bourbon and bathos. And like Lanegan and Dulli, Eitzel's always found a way to bring more traditional musical modes into the ferment of his post-punk passion. AMC corralled bits of folk, jazzy lounge, and the occasional country kick into a smoldering package for Eitzel's rambunctious antics and Norman Mailer-like advertisements for his bared soul.

On his last disc, 2001's Invisible Man, Eitzel made a turn toward a different sort of genre-bending. Tapping into the trickery of electronic gadgetry, Eitzel discovered that he can wander through the valley of the shadow of dots and loops as hauntingly and moodily as Nick Cave wallows in morose piano and violin accompaniment. And it lends Eitzel's melancholic angst a butterfly-like briskness that he's rarely displayed before: Think of the lush, torch-song ornamentation of Elvis Costello's Imperial Bedroom, and you'll be on the right track to placing Invisible Man in Eitzel's solo career.

Earlier this year Eitzel returned with a cover album, Music for Courage and Confidence, and he's since hit the road, where he will continue to try to break out of AMC's shadow and into a more compelling spotlight as a solo artist. And that's a promise to raise a glass to.

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