There’s nothing like errant punctuation. It’s funny how one arbitrary little symbol can entirely change the meaning and tone of a word or sentence. Am I right, or am I right? Aside from challenging Microsoft Word’s spell-check feature, Burlington’s “harmonicore” outfit Cccome? show creative fortitude with their stutter-inducing name — not to mention with their self-assigned genre designation. And in this case it’s a curious hint as to the mindset of a curious ensemble.
Cccome?’s second album, Raccoon, picks up where last year’s self-titled debut left off. The band continues exploring ways to mess with the well-worn conventions of blues-rock. While the disc bears many of the chaotic earmarks familiar to fans, Cccome?’s latest exhibits yet another new a twist on the old formula, and adds legitimate composition to their flights of sinister musical fancy.
Where the band’s debut was — perhaps intentionally — a scattershot of twisted emotional intensity, round two is surprisingly refined. In Raccoon, Cccome?’s sprawling sonic theatrics have been honed into something considerably more palatable. Not that the recording lacks any of the ragged charm of their first effort. Rather, the focus on song structure amplifies the group’s flair for the ribald and elevates their unique brand of rollicking debauchery to new levels.
Ex-Manifest Nextome keyboardist/MC Chris Kiper is no longer manning the skins; he’s been replaced by longtime Burlington drummer John Stella. No slight to the multitalented Kiper, but Stella’s metal-inspired rhythmic explosions behind the kit prove a fertile foundation, solidifying the group’s diffuse musicality and putting the “core” in harmonicore.
Back again are mandolin-electrique savant Meistah, Jarmac T. Harveys on fretless bass, and ringleader Smokey Knolls on vocals and harmonica. Knolls’ vocal delivery evokes images of a demented carnival sideshow barker with a thing for Dylan Thomas. Or maybe Oscar Wilde. “Spare the child, spoil the rod,” he intones in Waitsian fashion on the album’s fourth track, “Magnet.”
Raccoon is probably not for everyone, but it is certainly for those who enjoy their gritty art-rock both shaken and stirred.
Catch Cccome?, Space Tiger — who are releasing their debut Lapping Up the Milky Way — Samara Lark and The Villanelles this Saturday at a secret (wink-wink) location in Burlington’s Old North End. Visit www.myspace.com/cccome  for specifics.