Very Nice Folks

Hearing Michael Musika for the first time is a bit of a Bob Dylan experience, in the fountain-of-words sense and in the unorthodox-vocals sense. But while Musika is a folkie and a rootsie, he's no traditionalist; some say it's because he's probably from outer space, from the sparkliest neighborhood on some collectivist space station. He plays electric guitar, and then comes an oom-pah rhythm on piano, joining the chimes, always the chimes. Vocally, he's influenced not only by Americana troubadours, but also by the wordiest traditions of hip-hop MCs, often using their skip-time cadences to squeeze extra words into a line. It might seem like overkill to include extraordinary drummer Dave Mihaly, Indianna Hale/Kathryn Jensen and her Jolie Holland–like harmonies, undisputed genius Dina Maccabee on violin, beloved songwriter Kacey Johansing plinking keys and in charge of those chimes, and the hot tub of Matt Adams' caramel bass. Each one of these people conducts a highly successful musical existence alone — how can this many egos work together onstage? The question comes up, but answers itself, because each song is a mini-orchestra, solidly supporting Musika but still giving everyone their due.

Zoyres and the Blank Tapes open.
Thu., July 29, 8 p.m., 2010

 
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