One of the things that’s fun about the End Times Spasm Band – aside from their simple tendency to have fun, of course – is the band’s ability to find so many divergent flavors within a single song. There’s a temptation upon first hearing Baudelaire, the band’s new EP, to mark it down as cheeky roots jazz revivalism and leave it at that, but it’s when you try to pin down exactly what the music is referring to that things get tricky. Like a French philosopher trying to grapple with linguistic meaning, you’ll find each allusion slipping through your fingers just as you think you’ve got a hold on it, only to be replaced by another. In the end, you’re going to have to admit that this stuff just might be something new.Part of the problem – it’s not really a problem – lies in Lyndsy Rae’s vocals. Through one phrase, she’ll flirt with Billie Holiday, but she’ll follow that up with a twangy inflection, like a farm girl from the 20s who’s overjoyed that she’s singing in a dance hall in the city. That juxtaposition is one thing, but when you toss in a couple of songs sung in growly French, as in the EP’s title track and a cover of Edith Piaf’s “La Vie en Rose,” the band suddenly, again, refuses to fit into the pigeonhole in which you thought you could place them.
It’s best, then, to just go with the music’s current and not worry about where it’s taking you. Maybe you’re fresh off the bus in New York, having stumbled into a smoky back-alley club, or maybe you’re in a bawdy Paris dance hall, rubbing elbows with poets and painters, or maybe you’re on an Indiana farm somewhere, swinging through the coolest barn dance ever.
Regardless, you’re in for a good time.
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