When: Wed., Sept. 28, 9 p.m. 2011
On its new self-titled album, Megafaun has tweaked its sound, downplaying Phil Cook's ubiquitous banjo—an instrument that defined this shaggy North Carolina trio's hillbilly folk-rock in the past—in favor of guitar and piano. Though the change pushes the band closer to 70s folk-rock and accentuates the influence of early Grateful Dead—particularly their rustic, laid-back vocal harmonies—Megafaun hasn't ditched its experimental impulses. The sweet melody of "These Words" is interrupted by a jumbled chorus of electronic drums, white noise, and sampled birds, while the instrumental "Isadora" (with members of the No BS! Brass Band adding ebullient, keening horns) tips its hat to the gospelized free jazz of Albert Ayler. But most of the pieces are plaintive love songs, with gentle pleas to keep the faith: on "Resurrection" the protagonist attempts to make amends but instead digs a deeper hole ("So no more lies and half-ass tries / The rhetoric is worn to hell"), and on "State/Meant" (which blatantly rips off Neil Young's "Cortez the Killer") the narrator sings, "Wait, wait / Please don't shut me out / I swear that my intention was to help." The group also salutes the Staple Singers with a nicely ragged version of "Scorned" and summons the sound of the Band—a clear precedent for Megafaun's sprawling embrace of American music—on "Get Right." —Peter Margasak Doug Paisley opens.