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Live: Sophie Sputnik at Radio-Active Records, October 1

Sophie Sputnik's The Chase Live Recording
Radio-Active Records, Fort Lauderdale
Saturday, October 1, 2011

Better than: Any open mic in town and any sort of Lana Del Rey mischief.

Sophie Sputnik is beyond focused. The Deerfield Beach singer/guitarist had every second of her live recording session Saturday night meticulously planned -- and if not, it sure seemed that way. Before a rapt audience in white folding chairs and more leaning on record bins behind them, Sputnik rolled swiftly and confidently through a debut album's worth of material that will be titled The Chase.

The set behind her was decorated with Christmas lights, candles, dry ice, and a home-made "Recording" sign, and the air wafted with incense -- very MTV Unplugged, but far more intimate. 
Backed by John Paul Garcia on drums and Melanie Adak for harmonies, Sputnik in a tasteful gray filled the room with her songs, her dreams, and her heart. As amazing as it was to see (and hear) her belt out acoustic material that wavered from alt-country swagger to more precious jazz notes, it was even more impressive to note that not one chord was out of place, and every song was fully realized on its first take. Her confidence in her material became the room's pleasure, enthusiasm, and tears, when appropriate.

A long dedication kicked things off, filled with shoutouts to kazoos and self-mutilation and self-respect and everything as flippant or serious as you can imagine. What followed were songs that unloaded that balance of serious songs that could make you laugh and funny moments that might make you cry. Sputnik and Adak, who used to perform together as the Honey Bats, intertwined their voices and coughed and screamed for comic relief, especially on a song apologizing to Mr. Bunny -- "she didn't mean to," Adak whispered. A fake guitar solo via voice came during "Fox Chaser" a bit later.

The earnestness of a prodigal homecoming, and the very real insecurities many people face, came up in other portions of the evening. For the near and dear latter, "The Insecure Song," Sputnik sang "I have boring eyes" over a somber, finger-picked melody and a subtle percussion backing. At that moment, it was more tempting than ever to focus in on her own pupils, covered mostly by her bangs, and see the intensity at work. Maybe that's the thrill of The Chase.

Critic's Notebook

The crowd: About 50 people who are already enraptured by Sophie Sputnik. There will be more, soon enough.

Personal bias: Regina Spektor, who is usually situated behind a piano, is a comparable influence, but the feisty reverberations of Cary Ann Hearst could be heard as well.

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The album: Is available for pre-orders now at Radio-Active Records for $5. Richard Vergez designed the cover art. See below:

1. hotter than hell

2. hello

3. the sick song

4. run

5. dandelions

6. the mom song

7. wolf song

8. insecurity song

9. patrick schwasted

10. fox chasin

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