Thursday, May 31, 2012

New Discovery: JD McPherson - Signs And Signifiers

I love 1950's and 60's American music. Love it, spend a great deal of time listening to soul, early rock, garage rock, R&B, classic country. But somehow the current and often popular "retro" acts generally leave me cold,  just too uninspired and unemotional. And when I do find a contemporary act whom I dig working in a traditional style, it's more often than not a late bloomer like Charles Bradley, or say Bettye Lavette making a comeback record.
But the Alabama Shakes aren't the only new act bringing back the real R&B. JD McPherson, an art teacher from Broken Arrow, Oklahoma has made one hell of a debut record Signs and Signifiers. Here's the insanely catchy lead track and single "North Side Gal":

And as good as it is, "North Side Gal" is not the sole high point, as this entire CD cooks, swings and just gets it. JD's giving away a free download of "Northside Gal":

McPherson's a terrific singer with great phrasing. His band has just the right loose feel, complete with bass slaps, great piano work, toe tapping drum fills, and a fleet of vintage Cadillacs' worth of great guitar sounds.
Signs and Signifiers simply leaps out of the speakers. Check out this title track with its killer guitar hook intro, updating both Bo Diddley, and more modern rock licks like Johnny Marr's "How Soon Is Now?":

The CD reminds me less of any of its particular influences like Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters and Buddy Holly than it does say Dave Alvin, artists with the deep respect for classic sounds, but with their own voice and spirit.

McPherson has been quoted as being just as big a fan of The Ramones and Wu-Tang Clan as he is of any '50's blues or rockabilly artists, and that deep musicality really shows here.

Rolling Stone is streaming the entire record here:

You can listen once but then you gotta go buy it. I promise you it sounds particularly good played loud with your car windows down.

McPherson is on tour now and lucky for me, pulling into Portland this Saturday at my favorite bar in town, Bunk Bar. This is good.

Get this record. Summer's here and the time is right.


Gwen said...

Brilliant album. And timely, spot-on review. I never go wrong following Desmond's advice.

The authenticity, passion, and commitment of McPherson, the Alabama Shakes, and others (Kasey Anderson comes to mind) not only fuels some fantastic new music but reveals how grace and dignity may be born from being true to oneself.

Thanks for spotlighting such talented and compelling musicians.

Jim Desmond said...

Gwen, thx for the kind words. Odd that you would mention Kasey Anderson as he is in the queue.
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