Even in the throes of her highest notes, vocalist Katrina Ford of Baltimore-based Celebration emanates flawless androgyny. Guttural phrasings marked with endnote whimpers echo the mod, garage and 1980s hair-band frontmen who achieved similar vocal ambiguity—except Ford’s a woman. Rather than making it disconcerting, Ford’s enigmatic sound renders Celebration’s eponymous debut seductive.

Spiking Ford’s forceful tone is David Bergander’s scattershot drumming, providing mathy beats in the guise of wild abandon. And propelling the band’s sound into both astral and tribal realms is multi-instrumentalist Sean Antanaitis who plays—among other devices—Moog bass pedal, Hammond organ, Wurlitzer piano and electric guitar, filling in Celebration’s sound with spastic funk and psychedelic resonance. It comes through on “War,” a political commentary sugarcoated with a booty-shaking sheen and the album’s most bewitching track.

Celebration is moody and over-the-top, and sometimes redundant. But mostly it plays with time signatures and runs emotionally amok without losing its enthusiasm. With Ford in command, Celebration is also an intriguing experiment in gender illusion, as effective as it is unforced. (Erika Fredrickson)

Celebration performs Saturday, April 25, at the Elk’s Lodge with Schoolyard Heroes, The Photo Atlas and 1090 Club. 9 PM. $10/$8 advance. Call 542-5029.
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