Holly Golightly delivers comedy, and a few songs, too, at Mercury Lounge in NY

After punk, the smart rockers graduate to alt-country. It’s a career path that’s worked wonders for Holly Golightly, former lead singer of ’90s faves Thee Headcoatees, an all-girl garage group associated with eccentric British punk-rock mastermind Billy Childish’s “Medway scene.”

These days, Holly rocks vintage dresses, strums a hollowbody and lives in a Georgia farmhouse with a guy called Lawyer Dave, the singer, guitarist and percussionist who alone constitutes her new backing band, the Brokeoffs. The pair has released two excellent albums and is fixing to drop a third, “Medicine County,” in March.

Thursday night, Holly and Dave brought their always-entertaining live show to New York City’s Mercury Lounge. Here are four reasons they were worth leaving the apartment to go and check out, no matter how cold the walks to and from the subway.

1. Easygoingness: For some reason, Holly and Dave didn’t get a chance to sound check, so they simply tested their levels in front of the audience, during the opening “Lay Right Down and Die.” There was a certain murkiness to Holly’s guitar tone, but she must have liked it, because she kept going, giving the soundman no directives.

2. Dave’s deadpan comedy: “In a way, they’re all kind of domestic-violence songs,” the slow-talking Texan said early in the set, introducing “My 45,” a tune about hiding your gun, lest your spouse use it on you. At various other points in the show, Dave mused on drugs (“I don’t do a lot of cocaine, so I don’t know what disco is.”), cannibalism, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and the unequivocal bummer that is stepping in human poo.

3. Holly’s humor: Holly more than kept up with Dave’s one-liners, and she frequently countered his with gems of her own. As Dave introduced a song about “y’all’s neighbor, New Jersey,” Holly cut in with, “Yay! It’s raining trash!” She dedicated “Everything You Touch,” a tune whose titular phrase leads into “turns to stone,” to “anyone who has a mother-in-law” and made a sex joke about Frank Sinatra, ostensibly because she was playing a guitar that once belonged to one of Old Blue Eyes’ band members. “I like to think Frank rubbed off on me,” she said, dirty meaning very much intended.

4. Oh, and the music’s not bad, either: You could listen to the two talk all night and still get your money’s worth, so consider the songs an extra bonus. Holly and Dave are purveyors of a loose, scrappy sort of twang, and as they sing of suicide, spousal abuse, booze, guns and other classic-country subjects, they never try for the earnestness or musical authenticity of other Americana artists. They introduced “Indeed You Do” as their disco song, even if Dave’s insistent bass-drum kicks were closer in spirit to L.A. punks X than Donna Summer.

— Text by Kenneth Partridge, photo by Alison Wonderland

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