Buffalo Tom/Bettie Serveert/Verlaines | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Buffalo Tom/Bettie Serveert/Verlaines 

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It's another alternative-rock road show! This week, melody and manners division: three irony-free presenters of unapologetically textured and intelligently crafted pop rock. Buffalo Tom are an earnest, somewhat stately Boston outfit who puts their chips on the squares marked sincerity, melody, and friendliness and thereupon bet the house. Bassist Bill Jankovitz, whose expressive voice sets the group's tone, emotes adequately, and the group is tasteful and together even when turning up the volume, but their albums, including the new Big Red Letter Day, just don't seem like required listening. Tuneful exceptions: the strutty "Sodajerk" and the somewhat gritty, nicely arranged "Latest Monkey." Bettie Serveert are a Holland quartet whose debut Palomine showcases Carol van Dijk's fabulous vocals and sometimes serious, sometimes punning way with a lyric; the rest of the band contributes awesome melody work and control of pop dynamics. The result is one of the most deeply pleasureable records released this year. As for New Zealand's Verlaines, their almost courtly drawing-room rock lets its hair down a but on their new Way Out Where. You can like a lot of things about the Verlaines' guiding light Graeme Downes: his unassuming posture and slightly logorrheic lyrical abilities; his gnomic witticisms, interior monologues, and social observations; the way he incorporates everything from music-hall foofarwa ("This Valentine") to classic rock grooves ("Lucky in My Dreams") in the arrangements. Only those offended by perhaps undue amounts of taste and politesse won't like it. Friday, 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Jeff Bender, Ed Sirrf.

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