Bittersweet sendoff

One last chance to catch Sweetthieves in the act
By CHRIS CONTI  |  December 16, 2008

 THE LAST HURRAH Sweetthieves.

You're killing me, Sweetthieves. The freshly released Blood & Curses gets my late-inning nod for rock album of the year, and then you decide to call it quits with a CD release/farewell show at Milk & Cookies Gallery in the Bucket on Friday. Drummer Mike Viele (a beast on the disc) and co-vocalists Hilary Jones (bass) and Dave Martinka (guitar) will debut plenty of tracks from their second (and final) album Special guests are Lolita Black and Cowgirl, and there's a gallery opening of artwork for Sweetthieves' original drummer Jay Mayoh's Tales of Rocky Point Park comic series.

"We've been going in that direction for a while, and the break-up is a group decision," Hilary Jones said earlier this week via email. "The band had taken a back seat to other things over the past year, plus we each have other musical directions we'd like to explore that don't necessarily work in the context of Sweetthieves."

Sweetthieves operate as a cohesive unit on Blood & Curse, once again channeling Sonic Youth, Slint, Jawbox, and Sleater-Kinney as they did their 2006 debut View From a Glass Tower (available on iTunes), but the trio cook like never before on tracks such as "Reactance" and album opener "Bullet," both bound to get the crowd spazzing out at the Grant Building.

The album also benefits from the new and improved Machines with Magnets recording studio in Pawtucket. "We're really psyched about the way the new record turned out," Jones said. "We tracked digitally this time around so it definitely has a crisper sound, and the new location has an excellent live room, which you can definitely hear in the recording."

Jones and Martinka share vocal duties again, which sometimes become an afterthought when coming in so late on scorchers such as "Phantom" and "Nine."

"The vocals almost always come last — not that they aren't important, but we like to see where there's room for vocals and let the music guide them," Jones said of the recording process.

Cowgirl's Spencer Swain chimed in and lamented the loss of another promising local outfit. "Sweetthieves are a great band, a little bit Sonic Youth, a little bit X, and a lot of their own thing," he said. "It's really too bad they're calling it quits."

For Jones and her mates, the Sweetthieves Experience comes full circle on Friday. "It's sort of a culmination of our experiences over the past six years, to be playing our final show in conjunction with an art opening for our original drummer," she said.

"We'll be playing some older songs that we haven't played in a while, along with songs from the new record, and we've got a little surprise for anyone who's been with us since the beginning."

SWEETTHIEVES | LOLITA BLACK | COWGIRL | Milk & Cookies Gallery @ the Grant Building, 250 Main Street, Pawtucket | December 19 @ 9 pm |

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