Kelli Schaefer, No Identity (Amigo/Amiga)
[GOING DARK] No Identity finds Kelli Schaefer in a darker mode than on her 2011 debut, Ghost of the Beast, which itself was a pretty gloomy affair. The title track is a fiery stomp that introduces Schaefer's fervency from the first note. "I missed the goddamn center every goddamn try," she seethes over a moody riff and a driving backbeat that elevates every gesture to an undeniable urgency. "Moonstruck" is another pounding howler that calls to mind Dead Weather's Alison Mosshart with her feet in fire. It's in this barnstormer manner that Schaefer truly shines. Her vocal timbre is exceptional, equal parts PJ Harvey and Björk, and she's tactile enough to shift from rancorous fury to soothing croon within the span of a single track. Nowhere is this on display more than in the choppy, layered textures of album centerpiece "Underground," whose chorus turns a vibrant collection of complementary vocal shades and arranges them in a dreamy, shimmering haze. Though the title implies a reluctance to adopt it, No Identity earns Schaefer a reputation as one of Portland's strongest songwriters.
SEE IT: Kelli Schaefer plays Rontoms, 600 E Burnside St., on Sunday, March 19. 9 pm. Free. 21+.