Review ·

So it’s come to this. Eric Bachmann, once one of the most beloved members of the indie-rock scene nationwide, has completed his gradual transition to what is essentially an adult-alternative sound.


Crooked Fingers was always a vehicle for Bachmann to display his more streamlined tendencies, to offset the quirks of Archers of Loaf. But the newly mainstream sound comes after Bachmann declared Wal-Mart to be the Great Satan. Crooked Fingers is making the physical version of Forfeit/Fortune available exclusively to 20 prime independent music stores (not that that’s elitist or anything). The cruel fate of Forfeit/Fortune is that the external social factors of this easily digestible, bland-sounding album mark an act of supposed independent defiance.

Some of Bachmann’s fans have been longing for him to enter Springsteen territory with Crooked Fingers. But he will never be as widely popular or beloved as the Boss, particularly when he releases an album as paradoxically alienating as Forfeit/Fortune. Featuring the kind of digital production values that make vinyl advocates lose sleep at night, Forfeit/Fortune has a slew of duds, particularly pronounced in opener “What Never Comes” and closer “Your Control.” This is the kind of music that killed Liz Phair’s career, but whereas Phair on a major label saw her cred tank faster than the Dow, said social factors will probably give Crooked Fingers a free pass.


The choice tracks, the tracks that redeem an otherwise eternally frustrating album are “Cannibals” and “Modern Dislocation.” It seems Bachmann is at his best when he sticks to singing about social dynamics instead of flimsy storytelling; these two tracks have considerable, enduring bravado and remind us why Bachmann was such a hero in his (admittedly small) circles 15 years ago. Around 1993, North Carolina and Kentucky became unlikely centers of eccentric, inspired indie rock. By now most of its founders have followed a musical trajectory similar to Bachmann’s. This raises the question: Have the '90s indie-rock musicians turned to AM radio friendliness, or has AM radio absorbed '90s indie rock? Which one of these trends would we prefer?




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Don't bother with Ethan's review; pick up the latest from Crooked Fingers, and enjoy the gorgeous layers of seasoned songwriting that Bachman has released yet again. It's a solid collection of sophisticated compositions powered by quality musicianship. So often critics fail to grasp the actual art they are reviewing, injecting there own dissatisfaction of what makes them uncomfortable, with the hopes of some how sounding valid among their peers. This is a great album, challenging and digestible at the same time. There is nothing wrong with a song that sounds good, especially when it supports the potent lyrical sensibilities of Bachman. Some of it goes down burning like an intoxicating vapor, leaving you dumbfounded and dancing at the same time. And some of it keeps coming back to you long after hearing it, wishing you could see them live.


"Have the '90s indie-rock musicians turned to AM radio friendliness, or has AM radio absorbed '90s indie rock? Which one of these trends would we prefer?"

Hmmm... These obviously are very important questions, and--given these economically difficult times--certainly deserve considerable attention. But I think the more relevant question we must ask now is exactly how far up his own ass is Ethan Stanislawski's head?


Ditto; ignore the review, buy the album. It rocks!


This review is asinine. There's no accounting for taste, but at least get your facts straight before jumping to conclusions about the motives behind the way this album is being marketed.
"But he will never be as widely popular or beloved as the Boss, particularly when blah blah blahbety blah..."
What was the point of typing this sentence? Just to show off your grasp of the obvious?


I love this album. I've listened to it almost every day since I bought it the first week it came out and I find it to be endearing and rewarding every time. The harmonies with Neko Case on 'Your Control' are classic and the spanish flavours that we get to hear are a great new direction for the band. It's inspiring to see how far this man has come as a songwriter since the days of the Archers. And as much as I love 'Web in Front', 'Strangled by the Stereo Wire' and 'Fashion Bleeds', this album represents the natural progression of the musician.

I jumped at the opportunity to see Bachmann play a solo show 2 summers ago and it remains among the top 2 shows I have ever seen, only Bachmann wins because it was just him. He has this (very rare) ability to make a room just dangle on every word and every note in between.


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