by Nick Koch

The Microphones (AKA Mount Eerie)

w/Little Wings, P:ano

Fri Jan 30, Department of Safety (Anacortes), 9 pm, $5.

It would be easy to file the Microphones' music under "experimental" or "lo-fi," descriptors which I think even Phil Elvrum himself--the guitar-toting troubadour behind the Microphones--would admit are fairly accurate. But those particular words fail to sufficiently describe what makes Elvrum's understated, often minimalist indie rock so charming. There is an earnestness to his music that endears itself to audiences, a sincerity that makes his songs, however sprawling or haunting, unusually personal. Volleying between expansive, fuzzy instrumentals and cooing, sparsely accompanied acoustic ballads, Elvrum has all the sonically complex artistic appeal you would expect from a K Records poster boy. His songs come off as boyishly sincere, his honeyed voice at once lovely and affecting.

Upon hearing the soon-to-be-released live Microphones CD, lucidly titled Live in Japan, Feb 19, 21 & 22, 2003, it is evident why Elvrum has acquired something of a cult following. Replete with previously unreleased material, including revised a cappella versions of "My Favorite Things" and "Silent Night," the album is a stroll through Elvrum's more accessible moments, showcasing both his lo-fi folk sensibility and his penchant for the musically challenging.

As a gesture of charity, the wonderful people over at the Department of Safety in Anacortes are blessing the undeserving public with a fucking fantastic show featuring our beloved Microphones, the equally phenomenal Little Wings, and P:ano, all of whom will have brand spanking new CDs on hand for this show. This stupidly good event is poised, according to the press release, to rival the What-the-Heck Fest. Whatever. Just be there.

Support The Stranger