ESSENTIAL "Ride That Cyclone"
This untamed, moon-worshiping, blood-and-guts Appalachian gypsy is a peculiar folkie. Larkin Grimm's 15-song debut for Michael Gira's Young God label is informed by sex magic, the Holy Ghost, and lizards; Gira calls her "the sound of the eternal mother and wrath of all women." Indeed, as Grimm has stated, "Parplar" is "a lesbian feminist album," estrogen battling the testosterone of her "beefy male collaborators" - labelmates Fire on Fire and others adding whirls of accordion, horns, banjo, and guitars. These synergistic skirmishes add a feral energy to the tuneful, haunting gallop of "Ride That Cyclone" and the short, disturbing "The Dip." "Damn the man in you," Grimm intones on the sprightly title track. But her shaman's dementia, as eccentrically vibrant as it is (though subject to a chipmunk-y shrillness), isn't Grimm's best calling card. That prize belongs to the old-world purity of her voice. There's an almost tender innocence found beneath the stark, dark lullaby of "They Were Wrong" and the hallucinogenic coos of "Be My Host." Add the gently clanging symphonette "My Justine" and the bubbly traditionalism of "All the Pleasures" and, heard in the right light, "Parplar" is a cunningly remarkable album. (Out now) - TRISTRAM LOZAW