Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3

Ole! Tarantula, and Sex, Food, Death... and Tarantulas (Yep Roc)

SXSW Reviews

Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3

Olé! Tarantula (Yep Roc)

Robyn Hitchcock & the Venus 3

Sex, Food, Death ... and Tarantulas (Yep Roc)

There's something about working with R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Young Fresh Fellow Scott McCaughey – two-thirds of the Venus 3 – that brings out the Robynest aspects of Robyn Hitchcock. Going back to 1999's fine Jewels for Sophia, the same collaboration produced garage band rave up "Viva! Sea-Tac." For Olé! Tarantula, the quartet captures a harmonic pop mayhem they haven't approached individually with much consistency in the recent past. Both Buck and Hitchcock seem to cast back a good 20 years to the time that the former was still on I.R.S. and the latter was making Queen Elvis, only now Hitchcock is channeling John Lennon way, way more than Syd Barrett. It's in moments ebullient and in others simply unhurried, but is always mercilessly vibrant. The highlight is "N.Y. Doll," a stunning ode to that band's Arthur "Killer" Kane. If only Buck could be convinced to take this gig full time. The live and slightly rougher collection Sex, Food, Death … and Tarantulas pairs up a companion EP to the upcoming Sundance Channel documentary Sex, Food, Death … and Insects. It's brightest spot might be the Venus 3's tackling of the Soft Boys' suspended-chord-athon "Queen of Eyes." (Friday, March 16, Dirty Dog Bar, 10pm)

(Olé!) ***.5

(Sex, Food, Death) **.5

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