When the Crying Shame released their second record, In a Field, a little over a month ago, you could practically see tumbleweeds rolling across the plains of the Seattle scene, so little did local media have to say about it. And yet, I do believe that In a Field is one of the better folk-country records I've put to my ears in a long while. Instead of falling prey to any number of gimmicky pitfalls like attempting to sing in an overly-twangy Southern accent when you are not, in fact, from the South the Crying Shame craft clever, country-esque songs written for urban wranglers with a sense of humor. Cello, violin, bass, and the gee-tar (that old standby) swell together into winsome harmonies, receding quietly as accents like whistles and plaintive organ strains wash into the foreground. But what really sets the Crying Shame apart for me are their clever lyrical parodies of the revival-tent moralizing common to classic country. I especially dig two tracks from the first record: "You Killed My Jesus" (perhaps a nod to Kinky Friedman?), and "Resurrection Day," in which Arlan, the Crying Shame's throaty vocalist, growls, "I think I might've seen the Holy Ghost/But you were the one that scared me most on Resurrection Day." If you're not leaving town this weekend, check them out; if you are, you'll get another chance on July 18 at Jules Maes. With Bird Show of North America. Lo-Fi Performance Gallery, 429b Eastlake Ave., 254-2824. 9 p.m. $7.
Sat., July 5, 9 p.m., 2008