Muchacho (Dead Oceans)

SXSW 2013 Records


Muchacho (Dead Oceans)

Matthew Houck's old-vine voice grounds Phosphorescent, distinctively gnarled and complex. Muchacho, however, shifts the focal point to his pained songwriting and commanding band. A decade in, the Brooklyn transplant continues surveying his back roads of New Weird America: "A Charm/A Blade" reprises the broken, one-man choir that surfaced on his third LP, 2007's dark Pride; "Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master)" follows the crooked country of tribute disc To Willie; and the title track's drunkard's waltz extends the narrative of "The Mermaid Parade" from 2010 breakout Here's to Taking It Easy. Phosphorescent makes new inroads on Muchacho as well, with expertly sequenced bookends and sparse electronics. "The Quotidian Beasts" charts Houck's "Cortez the Killer," a sawed-off saga that rolls like a midnight ramble with Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue. Unflinching triumph, "Song for Zula" sways with strings and aching pedal steel by Austin's Ricky Ray Jackson, as the singer recounts being disfigured by a failed relationship into some sideshow tragedy, caged and guarded. It's brutal, beautiful, and like the rest of Muchacho, masterfully executed. (11:55pm, Red 7 Patio; Fri., 9:30pm, Bar 96)


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