Louisville, Ky., has garnered renown as the largest burg in the state, a college basketball epicenter and the home of moodily imaginative post-punk music-makers like Slint and Bonnie “Prince” Billy. How do natives Leigh and Chandra Watson, otherwise known as the Watson Twins, fit in?
In 2006, the now L.A.-based pair landed on the indie scene with a splash, as the eerily dressed-alike, singing-alike collaborators with Jenny Lewis on 2006’s Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love), a modern girl’s look back at the days of Dusty Springfield and other down-home divas who made a haunting amalgam of country, soul, rock, and pop their own. No one who witnessed it could forget the moment the twins -- worked their mirror-image David Lynch-heroine looks to surreal effect -- entered warbling as they performed alongside Lewis at Swedish American Hall that year.
These days the Watson Twins look more naturalistic, but sound no less ambitious. The twosome’s latest Vanguard album, Talking to You, Talking to Me, continues to ply the listener with tightly interlocked harmonies, though with less of a C&W vibe than in the past. The moody Talking to You, Talking to Me speaks of time spent with sinewy UK rockers like Elvis Costello, Portishead and Everything But the Girl. Numbers like “Modern Man” ride on a brisk snare beat, forward-thrust bass, spare guitar and wiry synth, positively reveling in its airy production, while tracks such as “U-N-Me” bound along on a jittery, jumpy tempo, high on the jangle of tambourine, roadhouse piano, and memories of Nick Lowe.
Fully capable of wrapping their smoky vocals around a She and Him-like number like 2008’s “How Am I To Be” or slowing it down and turning up the heat for their well-known Cure cover, “Just Like Heaven,” the Watsons, like the best blood-relation duos, have a way of singing together that everyday overdubbing is hard-pressed to duplicate. Backed by players from My Morning Jacket and Everest, the Watsons attempted to take their songwriting up more than a few notches with Talking to You, Talking to Me. See if they succeeded when they play Cafe du Nord on Aug. 3.
The Watson Twins perform Tuesday, Aug. 3, 8 p.m., at Cafe du Nord, 2170 Market St., SF. Ferraby Lionhart opens. $10-$12. (415) 861-5016, cafedunord.com