Iron & Wine, Arthur & YU | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Iron & Wine, Arthur & YU 

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Grizzly Adams look-alike Sam Beam has come a long way from the naked austerity of his early stuff. With IRON & WINE's 2005 EP, Woman King, he proved he could write hooks that'd give you goose bumps--as well as make eerie jug-band rock that's actually danceable, at least in a muddy-hippie way. Now he's leading an eclectic, porchy ensemble that calls to mind the rural roots of the jam-band movement--a lot of their set at Pitchfork had me thinking, "Wow, there really was a lot to love about the Grateful Dead." The Shepherd's Dog, Iron & Wine's third full-length (Sub Pop), adds a sprawling, organic, Califone-y feel--no surprise there, since Brian Deck produced it--with instrumental flourishes like old appliances artfully arranged in an overgrown yard. Beam's current seven-member touring band is the same group he brought to Pitchfork, and includes past and present Chicagoans Chad Taylor, Ben Masarella, Matt Lux, and LeRoy Bach. --Monica Kendrick

ARTHUR & YU's debut album, In Camera (on Sub Pop spin-off Hardly Art), is a breezy little trifle. But that is not a bad thing. Sometimes I don't want to be challenged by what's coming out of my stereo--not commanded to dance, not beseeched to engage the singer's feelings. All the tracks on In Camera have lyrics, but I don't have any idea what they're about. With Arthur & Yu, all I'm looking for is a gentle, Velvets-jangly guitar line, a sparse and reverbed-out backbeat, and a guy--and maybe also a girl--singing sort of pretty. It's a simple formula, but properly executed it inspires deep bliss-outs. --Miles Raymer

Iron & Wine headlines and Arthur & Yu open. a 7 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $26. A

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