Nearly everything I've read about 24-year-old Texas singer-songwriter MICAH P. HINSON spends more time pulping up his backstory than discussing his work. Lurid though his press-kit bio is (evil model girlfriend, drug abuse, jail time for prescription forgery, homeless at 19, yada yada yada), you don't need it to appreciate his debut full-length. Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress (Overcoat) is at heart a breakup album, full of melancholy resignation and hopeful hindsight. Yet for all his insistence that things are OK now, there's a quality in Hinson's wavering, frequently multitracked baritone that suggests he's just kidding himself. When he sings, "I still remember thinking / How lovely it could be / To hold you for eternity / Or at least until you fell asleep," it sounds like he's reliving the tale as he spins it. Dusky, shifting folk-rock arrangements--courtesy of the Earlies, a bicontinental chamber-pop outfit featuring some of the singer's old buddies from Abilene--mirror this uncertainty, with a depth that's sometimes spacious and austere and sometimes dense and orchestral. Many start with Hinson picking out a pretty acoustic guitar part; slowly the band heightens the tension behind him, using standard rock-band instrumentation along with some well-placed strings and horns; then it all fades away. Hinson performs solo here. --Peter Margasak
There are plenty of second acts in American rock careers, but Eric Bachmann's is still something of a surprise: his old band Archers of Loaf never did much to suggest he had in him an indie-ballad record as great as CROOKED FINGERS' new Dignity and Shame (Merge). Flourishes proliferate as the arrangements unfold--see the slightly Calexicoid instrumental "Islero," or singer Lara Meyerratken adding sweet harmony and counterpoint all over the place, most hauntingly on the hooky "Twilight Creeps"--but they're never just complexity for complexity's sake. With hummable tunes and luminous colors filling out his rather gruffly romantic worldview, Bachmann takes a too-often pedestrian form and gives it fresh wings. --Monica Kendrick
Static Films opens, Hinson plays second, and Crooked Fingers headline. Wed 4/6, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $14 at
the door, 18+.