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Tuesday, January 27, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 27.0° F  Overcast
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Scott Lucas builds a rich, layered sound with the Married Men
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More instruments, more flavor.
More instruments, more flavor.

In alt-rock duo Local H, singer Scott Lucas bolsters his sardonic wit with just a few instruments. Drummer Brian St. Clair pounds out beats while Lucas extracts crunchy riffs from his guitar strings and bass pickups. His Americana project, Scott Lucas & the Married Men, has a considerably larger backup crew. They'll perform as a seven-piece when they stop by the Frequency Thursday, Nov. 29. That extra instrumentation has also been put to good use on Lucas' latest release, Blood Half Moon. Let's take a closer look at four of its key components.

Strings: The opening track, "Lover the Lullaby," is built around a somber riff that nearly all of the instruments take a crack at. Rebecca Brooke Manthe's violin rings out the loudest, piercing through the tune's smoky black melancholy. Her sharp playing complements the bleak pioneer spirit the Married Men go for and nicely offsets a surprising outburst of guitar shredding in the second half of the song.

Accordion: Aaron Duggins' accordion often settles in the background, adding texture to the songs. Even when the guitars take over during a sublime cosmic freakout near the end of "Out of the Boat," his steady playing forms the bedrock.

Keyboards: Infectious stomper "Steady Gaze" rocks just as hard as anything Local H ever put out. Jason Batchko hammers the song home with his piano, whether punching along in time or boldly speeding ahead. No matter how intense the guitar noise becomes, his notes poke through the mix, punctuating the beat. His versatile organ playing also lends a great deal of atmosphere to songs like "Lover the Lullaby."

Backing vocals: Lucas' gravelly voice carries Local H's rock songs from start to finish, and it's a good match for the Married Men's sound as well. When his vocals join two- and three-part harmonies on tracks like "There You Are," the emotional impact grows to match the power of the other instruments.

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