Local Wire

Jesse Sykes & Phil Wandscher

Country-noir singer Jesse Sykes looks like Lara Flynn Boyle and sounds like a cross between Marianne Faithful and Adam Sandler's Operaman. Her smoky, strained, eerily spectral voice is seemingly poised between genders — like a dude doing a falsetto. Not that we're complaining. Paired with guitarist Phil Wandscher (formerly of Whiskeytown, the '90s alt-country band that launched Ryan Adams), Sykes uses those raspy pipes of hers to create vividly pained, haunting songs of yearning and loss that seem to reach out from the netherworld — "half sadness, half fury," as she sings on "Eisenhower Moon," a track from the 2007 album Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul. Though they typically perform in a four-piece unit called Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter, Sykes and Wandscher will temporarily ditch the other two Hereafters in their hometown of Seattle to play a brief series of West Coast shows as a duo. Opening for them will be Tempe-based singer-songwriter Matthew Reveles, a kazoo-and-lap-steel enthusiast whose rootsy debut album, We'll Meet Halfway, dropped to rave reviews in 2008.

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Craig Outhier