Music geeks are so easy. Yeah, we sit in the corner and scoff at mainstream American males for worshipping fake-breasted blondes for their looks alone. But put a non-threatening pixie with cat-eyed glasses and a guitar on stage, and watch the guys in Guided By Voices T-shirts get all giggly and enthralled. So it's no wonder that Elizabeth McQueen is getting noticed. A non-threatening long-haired pixie with glasses and guitar, McQueen looks ready-made to capture the hearts of vinyl dorks everywhere.
Fortunately for my credibility, McQueen, along with her backing band the Firebrands, has the goods musically as well. McQueen is a serious contender for the most honeyed voice in alt-country (watch out, Neko Case), and the Firebrands mix old-school Grand Ole Opry steel guitar licks with a healthy dose of electricity. The results, as heard on their début The Fresh Up Club, could be called Patsy Cline on Xanax. McQueen doesn't have the stable of songwriters such as Willie Nelson and Hank Cochran that Cline had, and her songwriting isn't as polished as her voice. But on The Fresh Up Club's closer, the dumpee's lament "I Think I'll Stay In Tonight," McQueen gets everything right: She channels good-old-fashioned depressing Patsy Cline in a slow-burning, sultry torch song. At Off Broadway this Friday, the song will have every Buddy Holly-bespectacled fella in the audience swearing that they would treat her better than that last cad -- if only they had the chance.
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