wednesday

Off-key vocals. Hokey sound effects. Absolutely hopeless haircuts. Yep, the Curtains are an indie-rock band—one so shambling and dotty that they make Curtains main man Chris Cohen’s previous group, Deerhoof, sound like Deep Purple. On the California act’s fourth full-length, Calamity, Cohen plays all instruments but trombone (that comes courtesy Asthmatic Kitty labelmate John “Halfhanded Cloud” Ringhofer) and sings about tornadoes, invisible strings, and little bells on doors. Like most handcrafted objects, Cohen’s songs have visible seams—places where drums don’t quite line up with, you know, the beat, inept stabs at Beach Boys–style harmonies, barely in-tune guitars. But Cohen’s got a knack for orchestration that allows him to coax something approaching grandeur out of these very limited tools; tunes such as “Spinning Top” get pulled back from the abyss often enough to make one suspect that his art brut is born of choice, not necessity. His songwriting, however, isn’t quite compelling enough to make Calamity sound like the rough draft of something that, in steadier hands, might be completely awesome. Approach the Curtains only if you prefer to fondle such seams, or if you’ve already decided you prefer music that sounds “wrong,” no matter how self-consciously it’s assayed. Enjoy the company of other quirk-o-philes when the Curtains perform with Beirut and Get Him Eat Him at 8:30 p.m. at the Warehouse Next Door, 1017 7th St. NW. $10. (202) 783-3933. (Andrew Beaujon)