Credit: Derrek Bateman

The cover for Sasami’s first album has the L.A.-based musician exploring the edge of a frigid lake as ice-crusted mountains loom, foreboding, in the background. It’s a good fit for the sparse, elegant music. The art for her second album, Squeeze, is equally fitting: Sasami’s head is on the body of a serpent with centipede-like claws. The creature is based on the Nure-Onna, a fiend from Japanese folklore that drinks victims’ blood through its tongue. Where Sasami’s debut was a series of droning, melancholy dreams, the Squeeze singles released so far are jagged and confrontational—promising. Listening to both albums back to back, it’s almost hard to believe they came from the same artist. On the first, Sasami recorded demos on a phone while touring as part of Cherry Glazerr, and collaborated with Devendra Banhart. On the second, Megadeth’s Dirk Verbeuren backs up metal riffs with heavy drums. After seeing Barishi in concert, Sasami decided to incorporate heavier influences into her own music, in part (as she recently told Rolling Stone) to “make music that more-marginalized people could relate to and use as fuel for their own experiences and catharsis.” Soon after, she was playing a new set of songs with Barishi as her backup band. Perhaps soon Sasami’s Nure-Onna mascot will be considered a peer of others like Vic Rattlehead and Iron Maiden’s Eddie. March 24 at the Black Cat, 1811 14th St. NW. $16–$18.

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