w/ Sonic Youth
Fri Aug 30
Crystal Ballroom

& w/ Jenny Toomey, Beachwood Sparks
Tues Sept 3

If all that junk in the headline sounds esoteric, it sort of is. But when Christina Billotte was confrontational and growling in her D.C. punk band, Slant 6, it probably didn't occur to many listeners that she could let out a honeyed croon like an R&B torch goddess. Then again, if harDCore was a reaction to the climate of the time, it's only logical that Billotte's next project would be all about singing the blues--and if you listen to Slant 6 songs like "Thirty-Thirty Vision," you can hear her future in Quix*o*tic, Billotte's band with her sister, Mira, and Mick Barr. (From mind-exploding free metal duo Orthrelm; Mick replaces Brendan Majewski.)

So, please excuse the pun, and the excessive use of genre tagging, but Quix*o*tic is a hard band to peg. They've got a decidedly '60s flavor, blending the sparse sounds of obscure girl psych/garage with deep soul and R&B. And, if you thought the recordings of those girl garage bands always sounded strangely haunting or shackled, Quix*o*tic takes all that creepiness to its next logical progression: infusing it with a ghoulish bent and a bona fide morbidity. If you need a visual, it's sorta like a punk Peggy Lee wearing tons of black kohl eyeliner? A bluesier, reform-school Holly Golightly? The psychedelic house band at the prom in Twin Peaks?

Quix*o*tic's second full-length, Mortal Mirror (on Kill Rock Stars, and produced by Guy P. from Fugazi) further proves the soulful point by mixing up the eerie, lithe vocals of Christina and Mira with surfy, Munsters-style guitar and a whole cache of standards. Songs covered include: "Sitting in a Park" by Billy Stewart; "Tell it Like it Is" by Lee Diamond and George Davis; and, of course, a bitchin', more femme-tuff, Grace-Slicked rendition of Black Sabbath's "Lord of this World." If it seems like it'd be tough to blend in originals with such completely kickass, soulful songs, don't worry--Quix*o*tic can hold their own. Actually, it's pretty amazing how well and authentically '60s their music sounds. For instance, in "The Breeze," a longing, sparse song about suicide, Christina sings, "So you say you've had enough of this world/ I say you haven't Oh to be the breeze in the top of the trees/to be nowhere. There was a reason to be born on earth." She has a dip in her croon and a mesmerizing, haunted Blue Hawaii quality that will transport you to the set of an old horror movie, or land you smack in the middle of a Dame Darcy comic.

This is Quix*o*tic's second tour with Sonic Youth (the first was in 2000 after they released their first album, Night for Day) so they must be doing something right. But for further proof, witness the following live summation from a fan website: "They were alot like the Shaggs actually, except darker, and they had a skull on stage. Before, I thought they would be like Nation of Ulysses or every other DC band, but they weren't. They did standup a capella stuff with wood blocks, so heartfelt and lovely. They took the trophy." Well, bully!