Scout Niblett

Expatriation has left its mark on Nottingham native Scout Niblett. Whereas she was once good for a solid, Cat Power-style folk ditty, three albums in and three American cities behind her (at least), she's lost her mind in the best way possible. 2003's I Am was transitional at worst, and explosive at best, in the way she buried grindcore land mines beneath her somber phrasing. And somewhere along the way she decided to play drums, actual skill be damned. I was startled--and hooked. This time around, she's not hiding anything. Just more than two minutes in we are treated to guitar licks and drum rolls of Sabbath proportions--this after an opener so quiet I thought I heard a table fan flapping in the background. Whether you like Scout Niblett depends on whether or not you can stomach, even relish, unironic heavy metal and 20th-century art music served up in a wig and pajamas. Your guide will have a voice tinny and chirpy and sweet. And if you met her in real life, she'd freak you out while eating your pizza and conning you into doing her a favor (true story, apparently). Off-beat charm can move mountains and melt hearts, can't it?

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