Megafaun, Doug Paisley

With the release of their eponymous fourth studio album, the North Carolina-based, Eau Claire-bred trio Megafaun have only complicated efforts to categorize their ambling, freely roaming, sometimes experimental sound. But at the same time, and in logically contradictory fashion, the band has solidified its identity with the new disc (recorded at former bandmate Bon Iver's Wisconsin studio), its disparate threads shooting wildly from a rootsy, Americana freak-folk core to the fringes of jazz and avant-garde. "Real Slow" could be American Beauty-era Grateful Dead. "Get Right" is a jangly rocker with a growing undercurrent of noisy insurrection. The swirling instrumental "Isadora" sprouts horns that shift from stately to raucous territory somewhere between the Balkans and Caribbean while vibes and banjo negotiate multiple time-signature changes. "Scorned," a cover of a gospel standard recorded by the Staple Singers, is spare blues haunted by a ghostly harmonica's wail. "Serene Return" is a scrum of bubbling electronics, industrial drone, and murmuring vocal choruses. Opener Doug Paisley is a well-regarded Canadian singer-songwriter with equal debts to country and folk masters like Hank, Woody, and Townes. The songs on his Constant Companion, mostly about fractured love, are remarkable for their richness of expression despite a prevailing spare, arid, plainspoken quality. Paisley sings with a confiding warmth, fitting nicely with his understated but expressive guitar, Garth Hudson's (of the Band) striking keyboard work, and vocal duet partners, including Leslie Feist on "Don't Make Me Wait." (Photo by D.L. Anderson)
Fri., Sept. 30, 7 p.m., 2011

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