Cate le Bon’s songs have a ragged glory, spare, yet intricate and propulsive like Television and Patti Smith Group before her, with a world-weary soul cutting through via le Bon’s swooping vocals. Backed by her sturdy, three-piece band, they launched into the clockwork shuffle of “No God,” from her most recent release, 2013’s excellent Mug Museum, at Amoeba Hollywood April 30.
Le Bon shifted gears from icy to sultry for single “Are You With Me Now,” which has the feel of a classic reggae ballad covered by a CBGBs band. The set picked up for album opener “I Can’t Help You,” its interlocking post-punk guitars and le Bon's sultry voice moving into a snarling chorus while le Bon's nimble-fingered guitarist doubled as keyboardist, playing jaunty synth organ to balance the songs jagged edges. They got playful for “Duke,” a song whose singsongy melody ends in a banshee wail from le Bon.
Her set moved from le Bon’s most immediate songs to some of her most challenging ones. “Sisters” started harmlessly enough with an upbeat jangle but ended in atonal guitar jabs and a ping-ponging bassline. “Wild,” Mug Museum’s heaviest rocker, saw some of le Bon’s wildest guitar playing as the song ended in a krautrock freakout. And for anyone not new to the le Bon fold, she pulled out Cyrk’s “Fold the Cloth,” its ornate arrangement balancing Mug Museum’s directness and ending things with eerie harmonies and spurts of carefully orchestrated guitar noise.