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Rhythm & Views

Shivaree

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It mystifies me to think that the edgy torch songs of Shivaree--comprised of vocalist Ambrosia Parsley, guitarist Duke McVinnie and keyboardist Danny McGough--aren't all over Hollywood. These Julie London-gets-Eurotrashed-in-Tom-Waits'-basement ballads are so addictive they could be used to bolster any smartly made film, and Parsley sure knows how to write an opening line. "New Casablanca" begins:

"Please take me out of here / so we can have a ball / I've been tired of / my face against the wall." Such a statement is typical of the characters Parsley inhabits; they plead, seduce, dominate and roll over--often within the same song. The band's catchiest track, "I Close My Eyes," starts out like a cheeky come-on ("Giddy-up, old boy / it's time to go") and ends up like a miserable ransom note; "Little Black Mess" sports a perky Latin beat and gets dirty early on with lines like: "I should try and be good / forever and ever, amen / So I'll touch wood / and hope I don't get caught again." And when the band turns its sexed-up attention to Brian Eno's "The Fat Lady of Limbourg," you'll forget the famed musician/producer's original version.

Back in November, Shivaree released an EP called Breach. Along with "I Close My Eyes" and "Fat Lady," it offers a cover of John Cale's "Fear," a duet with Ed Harcourt ("Strange Boat") and another, even better duet with Verbena's Scott Bondy (The Last Rock 'n' Roll Soldier) called "657 Bed B," a shard of psych-ward Country that's as beautiful as it is mysterious. Grab Who's Got Trouble? and Breach together, and you'll never settle for mewling cats again.

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