Mick Turner | Soccer Club Club | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
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When: Sun., Nov. 24, 6 p.m. 2013
Since the 80s, Australian guitarist Mick Turner has played a central role in a long line of scrabbly, emotionally potent rock bands, most notably wild postpunk combo Venom P. Stinger and violently elegiac instrumental trio the Dirty Three. (He’s also had a duo with Dirty Three drummer Jim White called the Tren Brothers.) No matter the project, though, he’s a quintessential ensemble player. Though he has a distinctive sound—a sort of staggering canter whose knotty phrases provide vivid atmosphere as well as wheezing propulsion—he doesn’t indulge in technical flash, and even on his solo recordings he doesn’t sing. They tend to be modest albeit somewhat experimental affairs, where he enlarges and expands upon the skills he uses to support others rather than playing guitar hero. Turner’s terrific new Don’t Tell the Driver (Drag City) aims higher, though he hasn’t abandoned his customary restraint. His graceful arrangements enfold somber brass, his own rudimentary piano, and sweet, intimate lead vocals by Caroline Kennedy McCracken (who sings on almost half the tracks, including the sashaying, clip-clopping “Sometimes”) into moody ballads and lurching epics; three different drummers (not including Turner, who pitches in) take turns providing the same sort of fractured swing that White brings to the Dirty Three. Turner does take his share of melodic solos, but they’re so tightly woven into the shambling ensemble sound that they melt into the songs rather than standing out—you might not even notice them if you’re not on the lookout. For these shows Turner plays solo, but I bet he’ll still manage to shirk the spotlight. Tonight, Turner will perform at the opening reception for an exhibit of his oil paintings and prints, which runs through December 31. He also plays at Bottom Lounge with Mono on Fri 11/22.—Peter Margasak Mono headlines.

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