Tonight, Raleigh's Kings Barcade will host a pair of extremely literate singer-songwriters. But John Vanderslice and Eric Bachmann—who performs with his Crooked Fingers—have more on their minds than penning pristine verses and strumming a guitar, which makes their well-written words that much more potent.
In addition to a slew of evocative, symbol-rich albums, Vanderslice is a respected producer, working closely with North Carolina's own Scott Solter to craft the sound of his last few solo LPs and helming a trio of albums by Durham's The Mountain Goats. Vanderslice's sense of sonic adventure finds one of its greatest expressions on 2011's White Wilderness, a collaboration with the experimentally inclined Magik*Magik Orchestra. Minimal but diverse, the LP finds him inhabiting ambient folk-pop a la Mount Eerie ("White Wilderness") and jazz-inflected ballads ("Sea Salt"). Proving his prowess, Vanderslice adapts seamlessly to each new environment.
Bachmann is most famous as the frontman for the recently reunited Archers of Loaf, and Crooked Fingers similarly benefit from the singer's unflinching intensity. Crooked Fingers favor chamber pop smolders over the Archers' explosive rock, but Bachmann brings a level of energy uncommon in his singer-songwriter peers. Whether he's sitting solo at the piano for a subtle and breathtaking rendition of a classic like "Chumming the Ocean" or striding through a stomping anthem from last year's Breaks in the Armor, Bachmann's presence is captivating.
Vanderslice and Bachmann are renowned for their songwriting, but there will be more than just pretty words to appreciate when they hit the stage tonight.