Critic's Choice

After getting a Grammy nod for its 1997 full-length debut, Fantastic Spikes Through Balloon, and rousing audiences while opening tours for everyone from the Melvins and Helmet to Morphine and Primus, Skeleton Key got lost in the shuffle by its label, Capitol, and seemed to disappear. Thankfully, the band resurfaced in 2002 with Obtanium on Mike Patton's wondrously subversive imprint, Ipecac. Skeleton Key's work strikes a fine balance between eerie and quirky, with a tuneful smoothness that sets it apart from the psycho-freakout stuff you might expect from the label. Picture four musicians in motorcycle helmets tumbling down a hill inside a beaten-up garbage can while managing to hold down a groove that Fat Albert wouldn't be ashamed to shake his jelly to. Or Primus trying to score an avant-noir film if Les Claypool had the guts to hold back a little. Though the bang and clang of scrap-heap percussion is certainly one of the Key's distinguishing features, it's the elastic interplay between the percussion and drums that gives the band its grace. Not to mention the fact that bassist/vocalist and sole founding member Erik Sanko kinda sounds like Sting on a Curtis Mayfield kick. It might take a while, but when Sanko hits his falsetto over that trademark pots-and-pans rubbery groove, you can hear the connection. Sanko brings an all-new lineup and fresh material from a forthcoming album to the Larimer Lounge on Monday, February 2, with the Red Light Sting and the Sacred Cattle.


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