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Dignity and Shame

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Album Review

Crooked Fingers mastermind Eric Bachmann has come a long way since his post-punk days with Chapel Hill indie darlings Archers of Loaf. His metamorphosis from the angular white-noise-maker who roared like a drunk lion on 1994's Icky Mettle into the rootsy troubadour who penned 2003's spirited Red Devil Dawn has reached completion on the world-weary and Spanish-tinged Dignity and Shame. Opening with the lonely, Morricone-inspired instrumental "Islero," Bachmann provides the audio equivalent of the dead matador that graces the record's liner notes, a theme that is revisited throughout. He replaces the outlaw narrator of Dawn with a broken-down cupid unable to hit the broad side of a barn on "Call to Love." One of two duets with Lara Meyerratken, it aims for a Pogues "Fairytale of New York"-level of mischievous ardor, but ends up — despite the wry lyric "I found a hundred different ways to say that I am not in love with you" — sounding forced and saccharine. He fares better on "Twilight Creeps," a rousing road trip of a song that pits his two most obvious doppelgangers — Bruce Springsteen and Neil Diamond — against each other, resulting in a lyrically honest and lovably earnest dissection of love and acceptance — "Why does everybody always act so tough/when all anybody wants is to find a friend." Much of Shame is subtle and quiet, utilizing gut-string guitars, lonesome trumpets and minimal percussion to paint Bachmann's portraits of struggle and strife. It wants terribly to be an important record, but its songs are merely good. Unfortunately, its' bare-chested, love-lorn narrator — while undeniably sincere — has crafted such a safe cradle of melody to rest them in that they never resonate enough to warrant repeated listens.

Customer Reviews

Among the best albums of 2005

Former stalwart of the Chapel Hill, NC music scene and former Archers of Loaf front-man Eric Bachman is now living in Seattle and making some of the best new rock around with his latest project, Crooked Fingers. One of the best indie rock offerings of 2005, Dignity and Shame was criminally overlooked in critics' yearly top-ten lists. “Call to Love” is a real gem, don’t miss it.

For intimate listeners...

I'd recommend Red Devil Dawn as a first Crooked Fingers album for most people, but if you're a careful intimate listener, this latest record is the real treasure for you. Close your eyes to the mysterious tension of "Islero," the surprising opener. Surrender to the bliss of "Weary Arms," and then the power pop of "Call to Love." Crank up the rockers, the soaring "Andalucia" and the barrelling "Coldways." And do not miss the exquisite "Sleep All Summer," an bittersweet duet that will seem all too familiar to anyone who's ever loved and lost. If you're new to Bachmann's post-Loaf work, "Twilight Creeps" and "You Must Build a Fire" epitomize both the up- and down-tempo strengths that are consistent through all the Crooked Fingers albums. But overall, this album is the most varied and surprising. A wonderful record for sunrise or sundown, to feel transition into a new phase of your day.

Call to Arms

The official iTunes review of this masterful album so misses the mark of good criticism that mention must be made, the gauntlet thrown down, the wrong righted. If ever there was a great Crooked Fingers album, this is it! While Red Devil Down has it's ragged charm, it is no where near as accomplished a picture as Dignity and Shame. It's the difference between Tarantino and Scorscese. Tarantino has outlaw charm, but not Scorscese's masterful mix of style and depth of feeling. That is what seperates the more accessible and deeper Dignity from Devil.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Crooked Fingers was the solo project of singer/guitarist Eric Bachmann, best known as the longtime frontman for North Carolina indie rock institution Archers of Loaf. A onetime saxophone major at Appalachian State University, he co-founded the Archers in Chapel Hill in late 1991; quickly emerging as a major local favorite, the band's off-kilter noise pop broke through on national college radio two years later with the release of the single "Web in Front," followed by a series of acclaimed LPs including...
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