Nashville’s Lambchop, led by indie cult figure Kurt Wagner, is a thinking person’s band—if that thinking person had a thing for Robitussin DM and Steely Dan records played at half-speed. Music writers often label the group alt-country, no doubt because it’s easier than inventing entire new genres like “ornamental narco-twang,” or “neo–Southern Gothic.” On more than a dozen Lambchop albums, up to 20 players serve up silky guitars, debonair horns, and fussy piano, upon which Wagner sings about everything from love and longing to National Talk Like a Pirate Day. His baritone borders on deadpan, but his prose is feisty and descriptive—never more so than on the group’s latest, OH (ohio). “I use language in a reckless abstracted splatter of phrase and meaning that somehow comes together through association with the music,” Wagner recently said. Certainly insightful, but it doesn’t help those music writers one bit.
LAMBCHOP PERFORMS WEDNEDESDAY, FEB. 11, WITH THE GARLAND OF HOURS AT THE BLACK CAT BACKSTAGE, 1811 14th ST. NW. $15. (202) 667-7960