The US mail and Secretly Canadian press apparatus conspired this week to deliver me new records by Phosphorescent, Damien Jurado and Peter Wolf Crier. They're all quite good, similar in the sense of a well-curated show rather than an record label repetitively focused on a single genre, all loosely defined by a rock embracing the roots of American music and festooned with pop flourishes (particularly radio-ready pop of the '60s and '70s).
Damien Jurado is something really special, and he's joined by a bunch more very special musicians (on cello, violin, tuba, french horn, etc) to flesh out his new record Saint Bartlett. The speaker in his tunes is cracked in a way both familiar and perhaps a bit further out (a love song notes that he passed his beloved like a ship in the night at the mental institution). And his songs seem both raw and well-crafted, again incorporating those familiar, tasty "pop" flourishes that characterize all these tunes (particularly the bouncing guitar line climbing up before the chorus on "Arkansas").
Saint Bartlett has a May 25 release date, and Jurado will bring along his Saint Bartlett Band to play the IMAF Festival at the Harrison June 25.
"Arkansas" from Saint Bartlett:
The one-sheet for the Minneapolis-based duo Peter Wolf Crier supplies context: "With our ears tuned into labelmates Gayngs, Volcano Choir, and Bon Iver, Peter Wolf Crier fits firmly into our developing Midwestern curatorial."
Which is also to say, yes, we've heard this warm texture, these upper-register background vocals, this relaxed backwoods sensibility before, but that makes Peter Wolf Crier more the part of a movement than merely imitative. It's a convincing argument, enhanced by songs like "Crutch and Cane."
Their debut on Jagjaguwar, Inter-Be, releases May 25, and they'll play for free at Locals Only June 10.
"Crutch and Cane" from Inter-Be:
Phosphorescent's leading man Matthew Houck is joined by a full band and strings for Here's To Taking It Easy, which seems to take its title from a '70s-era beer campaign that I can't quite place. And the album strikes a nice balance between songs like "It's Hard to be Humble," which sounds like the Flying Burrito Brothers with horns, right down to a somewhat tinny sound and Houck's thin tenor of a voice, and tunes that take it even more easy and, with more sparse orchestration, evoke Houck's earlier, one-mand-band records.
The record releases May 11, and these guys were in town with David Gray last month.
"It's Hard To Be Humble (When You're From Alabama)" from Here's To Taking It Easy: