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Embracing the Dusk with Ultimate Painting

The band plays Saturn Bar with EZTV and Video Age Nov. 27

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A thick English mist clings to everything Ultimate Painting does, from the overcast, politely understated arrangements (rarely more than a guitar, maybe a keyboard, an ambling bass and ambivalent drums) to the crushed-velvet croon of frontman Jack Cooper, who sings like he's trying not to wake his mum in the next room. There's also the cover of the band's third album, Dusk (Trouble in Mind), which looks like Nick Drake invited his one friend over to join him on Bryter Layter; and the second track, "Song for Brian Jones," a melancholic ode to everyone's third-favorite Rolling Stone. (Jones drowned in his swimming pool in the summer of '69, three weeks after the band gave him the boot.) If this all sounds like a remarkably depressing listen, it isn't. "Bills," the first song and lead single, makes sure of that, spitting a motorik chug that, as a misleading lead-in to the rest of the record, equates to a tugboat tow before being left to drift. That 4/4 metered groove pops up again for side one closer "Monday Morning, Somewhere Central," as if the middle needed another push. On the back half, Cooper and bandmate James Hoare hit their stride by slowing things down even further. With "Skippool Creek," they make like a half-speed Parquet Courts, letting their guitar figures fizzle like falling fireworks; and for the dim diptych "I'm Set Free" and "Silhouetted Shimmering," they kill the lights and embrace the darkness. EZTV and Video Age open. Admission $8

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