Holly Golightly, The Tough & Lovely | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Holly Golightly, The Tough & Lovely 

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Holly Golightly first made a splash in the early 90s with Thee Headcoatees, a raucous ladies' auxiliary to Billy Childish's most famous combo. The gehls tried gamely to look like they were being teensploited by the garage guru, playing punk covers and Childish's tunes. But since '94 Golightly has also had a for-real solo career, and these days her original songs--crude, playful blues stompers, wicked and embittered country dirges, 60s girl-group punk ditties--outnumber the covers three to one. On the new Slowly but Surely (Damaged Goods) her warm, pensive vocals fly low over a backdrop of bottleneck guitar, brushed drums, velvety upright bass, and liquid organ (courtesy of someone billed as "the Bongolian")--the whole thing sounds like the Dolly Mixture playing a woozy barn dance with the Doors.

Stockpile all the vintage tube amps and out-of-print records you like, but if you want to make romantic, 60s-style rock 'n' roll, there's no substitute for a great singer--and Lara Yazvac, leading lady of the Tough & Lovely, is a great singer. I figure the band was named in her honor: her sad, throaty voice is leathery as jerky and sweet as honey. The music on this Ohio quintet's new Born of the Stars (Spoonful) is unpretentious garage pop spiked with honky-tonk and Neko Case country noir; the melodies are solid and familiar, and the lively but laid-back beat is a joy to dance to. Yazvac's lyrics get no headier than "He's a good man / But he gets blue" and "Life is a lovely blade / It sparkles but it cuts," but she delivers every line like she's down on her hard-lovin' knees. The Tough & Lovely open the show, and Mr. Airplane Man plays second. Wednesday 20, 9:30 PM, Subterranean Cafe & Cabaret, 2011 W. North, 773-278-6600 or 800-594-8499, $10 in advance, $12 day of show.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Chris Anderson.

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