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Scout Niblett has done some puzzling things in her short musical career, choosing a too-cute moniker that sounds like a To Kill a Mockingbird–
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inspired Keebler treat the least bewildering among them. She has a disquieting addiction to wigs, which she wears during live shows and photo sets. For the cover of her previous release, I Am, she sported a set of false buck teeth that made her look like a Diane Arbus photo subject and gave everyone the heebie-jeebies. Niblett recently moved from her hometown of Nottingham, England—which seemed like a perfect setting for her elfin name and appearance—to Oakland, Calif., the home of Too Short and the testosterone-drenched Raider Nation. The name of her latest CD, Kidnapped by Neptune, wasn’t taken from the latest straight-to-video Little Mermaid sequel, but rather was inspired by her intense interest in astrology: “I am really aware of what planet is doing what to me all the time….Neptune kind of dissolves your sense of self in order to expand the boundaries of who and what you think you are, but in the meantime you can feel like your identity has been kidnapped or vanished, especially if it was strong or fixed.” Yikes. Thanks for the warning, sister. What is more baffling than those mere eccentricities is the inconsistency of her songs. Sometimes it seems that the Niblett is more interested in testing the patience of the listener—as on “Valvoline” and “Safety Pants,” in which she wails, respectively and ad nauseam, “I am the driver” and “C’mon honey, what are you doing to me?” The Cat Power and PJ Harvey comparisons seem particularly apt on Neptune’s best tracks—the plaintive “Relax” and the endearing “Lullaby for Scout in Ten Years.” However, whereas Chan Marshall and Harvey have mellowed slightly over time, Niblett comes off as more brittle and unhinged. Niblett plays with Garland of Hours at 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, on the Black Cat’s Backstage, 1811 14th St. NW. $7. (202) 667-7960. (David Dunlap Jr.)