Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Obsessed with JD McPherson's 'Signs & Signifiers'

I don't cover a lot of music on this blog. When I do, it's usually to bitch about the state of the music industry, or to complain about everything being over-compressed. However, every now and then, an album drops which slaps me in the face. 'Signs & Signifiers' is one such album.

I heard a couple samples off the album during an NPR interview, and bought the album instantly. The concept and execution is just so deliciously retro. McPherson has crafted a near perfect throwback to the sounds of the 1950's, a time before "Rock-n-Roll" had fragmented into R&B, Blues, Rockabilly, Punk, Hard Rock, and Country. A time where you could imagine going to a concert and seeing Buddy Holly, Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Ritchie Valens all in the same night.

'Signs & Signifiers' does a fantastic job of paying homage to these classic musical influences, while still presenting us something new. It's not a collection of covers, and it definitely showcases an aggressive modern energy, but the collection of songs included could easily be confused for vintage.  Jimmy Sutton's production work (also the bass player) and Alex Hall's mastering (also the drummer) clearly illustrate McPherson's passion for the musical era.

Lastly, and maybe one of the reasons I'm so drawn to this work, to match the vibe of the music and writing, the trio decided on an analogue style of recording to produce the sound they were after. Watching McPherson bellow into an old school ribbon, and hearing the tape distortion and mic maxing out, it's pleasing. It's what we like about older classic recordings. They've absolutely nailed the technical challenges, merging the benefits of modern producing with the constraints of analog gear.

I'm crazy late to this party, the album dropped the end of 2010, but I'm making up for it by playing the shit out of this CD.

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