I try not to get over-excited when writing about an album or artist I have just heard for the first time, but if you frequent this blog, you know that couldn’t be further from the truth. The same holds true for a band I just came across last week, Phosphorescent. They’ve been around for a while, but I’m late to the game as usual. They have a new record out this year that was released in May titled “Here’s To Taking It Easy”. I love when albums are named well, this album is a great example.
Phosphorescent is the project of singer/songwriter/guitar player Matthew Houck, and he currently hails out of Brooklyn, but are originally from Athens Georgia. Even when I hear an album that sounds like it came from the heartland of America, of course, I find out it’s also from Brooklyn. I feel like 90% of the artists I cover on this blog are from Brooklyn. What are they putting in the water? Is it the same thing that makes the bagels so damn good?
The labels being slapped on Phosporescent are Indie folk, Indie rock, Alt Country etc. I’ll use my typical Giant Panther musical sounds like formula to avoid genre tags (the lesser of two evils)? Reminds me of Early Wilco/Uncle Tupelo mixed with Ryan Adams (the good Ryan Adams, like Heartbreaker, not Rock N Roll), and a bit of Willie Nelson. My usual disclaimer, that’s not to say that this is a Wilco or Ryan Adams rip-off, this sound is very uniquely his own, but that’s the easiest comparison for me to make. I haven’t heard his earlier records, but from what I have read, this album is a giant step in the direction of country for Houck. Last year he put out a Willie Nelson, the aptly named To Willie, that has a similar vibe.
While this album without a doubt sinks it’s roots into country-rock Americana, and incorporates much of the country instrumentation like pedal steels, and twangy guitars there is something also very modern about the songwriting and instrumentation. The lyrics and the way they stumble out of Houck’s mouth are what makes this album more than just a pretty good alt country band. These songs all come in carefully crafted, masterfully delivered packages. Take the opening lick in “The Mermaid Parade”, the guitar just slightly missing the last note before the verse kicks off. To me these aren’t incidental mistakes, but intentionally placed mood makers.
Much of the lyrical content centers around life on the road, and at long last returning to the bed you’ve often shared begging for admittance. Not uncommon themes for this genre of music, but these aren’t cheap knock offs following formulas. The beauty of well written alt-country is not taking itself too seriously while still able to convey a deep emotion, often loneliness, and Houck has mastered the art.
Download Here’s To Taking It Easy here
Phosphorescent on the web