There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Freakwater members Janet Beveridge Bean and Catherine Ann Irwin’s previous records have been flatteringly compared to the works of legendary old-time bluegrass duo Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard, but the band’s newest release, End Time, finds the ladies presenting a more fleshed-out country production. End Time’s Grand Ole Opry enhancement comes from the addition of lush string arrangements, swirling Hammond organ, and pedal steel, which complement the duo’s alto-soprano vocal lines, acoustic guitars, and fiddle. Bean and Irwin have always borrowed from their friends’ talent pool, and this time around they’ve recruited Steve Goulding (Mekons, Waco Brothers) for additional swing on the drums. Shunning typical alt-country, Freakwater delivers instead raw emotion in old-fashioned packaging, exploring brutal realism in songs like the opening track, “Good for Nothing” (“Forgive and forget are never words that slid across my tongue/Revenge like a fleeting Christmas morning/I knew when I was young”), and familiar country territory in the traditional-style heartbreak ballad “My History.” And while the band calls Chicago indie-rock label Thrill Jockey home, it’s clear that Freakwater isn’t just a stylistic anomaly in the midst of the college-radio crowd. Bean and Irwin are songwriters with a clear notion of what good old-time country music really sounds like and why it still matters. Freakwater plays at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 28, at Iota, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $10. (703) 522-8340. (Amy Domingues)