The Lovely Sparrows, Frank Smith, Brazos
Free Week Live Shots
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Jan. 16, 2009
The Lovely Sparrows, Frank Smith, BrazosMohawk, January 10
"Cold weather does not make for nimble fingers," laughed a bundled Shawn Jones as the Lovely Sparrows played into the chill of the Mohawk's outside stage. Whether due to the bluster of weather or the outdoor setting, the Sparrows traded their usually intricate orchestration for a direct rock sound, leaving dexterity to Jones' deft wordplay. "Rene, Your Country" and "Department of Foreseeable Outcomes" from the local quartet's recent Bury the Cynics were given punchy, garage-pop licks, cushioned by Lauryn Gould's flute and keys, while a raggedly enthusiastic take on the Traveling Wilburys' "End of the Line" fired up the crowd. Frank Smith proved a bit more schizophrenic, the quartet shifting between the hypertwang of "Highway Eyes" and a much less enticing screamo closer. Brazos stole the show as headliner, reformed as a trio after the departure of guitar maestro Nathan Stein. Frontman Martin Crane soulfully plied new songs such as the swooning "Day Glow" and mellow groove of "Passenger," which warrant anticipation for Brazos' upcoming release. "We Understand Each Other" extended a minimal VU psychedelic pop alongside Crane's surprisingly effective adaptation of Adrienne Rich's poem "The Observer," before closing with requested favorites "Mrs. Virginia" and "Mary Jo."