Thee Fine Lines | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Thee Fine Lines 

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This trio from Springfield, Missouri, owes a lot to Billy Childish--the insanely prolific, stubbornly primitive, hilariously misanthropic British rocker who's been bashing away in varying degrees of obscurity for almost three decades. Thee Fine Lines deliver the same kind of catchy, dirt-simple tunes, stomping 60s garage beats, snarly guitar, distorted vocals, and shitty sound quality (sorry, I mean "vintage production") that made Childish projects like Thee Headcoats and Thee Mighty Caesars tasty. (They also have a fondness for some of Billy's favorite topics: "We're done screwing, so you'd best get out of my hair"; "Now that you're out of my hair, I believe you're cheating on me"; "Oh shit, I think I'm an alcoholic.") But these kids' self-titled debut full-length (released last year on Licorice Tree) makes me dancier than their chief inspiration ever has. Guitarist Justin Kearbey is a fiercer singer than Childish, who sometimes lapses into sly, waterlogged mumbling, and on drums Kearbey's brother Jason favors a jaunty, overexcited bounce, with plenty of goofy floor-tom bonks. Thee Fine Lines have a great second vocalist too, in the person of cute-chick bassist Trista Winn. It's a shame she's stuck on backups most of the time--unlike most cute chicks in garage bands, she doesn't sing like a cat getting a bath. Instead she bumps along the bottom of her range in a menacing, addictive purr. She takes the lead on just 3 of the 14 tracks, so I keep replaying this disc like a lab mouse who pushes the little lever till his paw aches, hoping the next pellet will be the special kind. The Safes and the Gentlemen Callers open. $5. Thursday, August 19, 9 PM, Big Horse, 1558 N. Milwaukee; 773-770-2039.

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