If you were to imagine an slightly more technologically savvy version of Paul Simon singing Elliott Smith songs, you'd get a pretty good handle on what Minneapolis native Jeremy Messersmith sounds like live. If you were to imagine a less gratingly cheery, obnoxiously twee version of She and Him, you would have a bit of an idea about Brooklyn duo Kaiser Cartel. That, however, isn't to say there's anything unoriginal about either of these bands, who hit Evanston's Space tonight at 8 p.m.
Messersmith's latest album, The Reluctant Graveyard, showcases a bigger sound than you'll hear from him as a solo act at Space but that doesn't make it any less lovely. Live, Messersmith records backing tracks in front of the audience, using his voice, shakers, and tambourines, amongst others, before playing them back to make himself the very definition of a one man band. Lyrically reflective and just plain gorgeous musically, Messersmith's quirks make him one of the more technically interesting solo acts that this roving reporter has ever had the chance to see.
If Messersmith's unique set up isn't enough to warrant a trek to the suburbs, the charm of Kaiser Cartel ought to do it for you. Equal parts jaded realism and pure adorableness, the folk music of Kaiser Cartel centers of the talent of Benjamin Cartel and Courtney Kaiser, who duet on nearly every song and alternate instruments more than a few times, but they bring their fair share of quirk to the mix, using a milk frother on stage at the beginning of their set.
If after a listen, Kaiser Cartel sound familiar, it might have something to do with HBO and their hilarious Jason Schwartzman vehicle Bored to Death, as the comedy-with-a-penchant-for-great-indie-tunes has featured the Brooklyn band not once, but twice. If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is.