Who | Damien Jurado
When | Wednesday, April 20
Where | Columbia Theater, Berlin
For fans of: Iron & Wine, Sun Kil Moon
Since his first lo-fi releases in the mid-90s, Damien Jurado has amassed a fairly solid cult following, and not without reason: he’s got a gift that’s made him easily one of the best American songwriters of the last half-century. Just as much a storyteller as he is a musician, his way with words projects into reality the themes and characters in his songs as vividly as a picturebook. When I first discovered Jurado in high school, I’d stumbled upon his incredibly hushed, intimate 2006 album, And Now That I’m in Your Shadow, and was irreversibly captivated. Now, with last month’s release of Visions of Us on the Land, the prolific Seattle native is on his 12th full-length LP and—having since moved on from his bare acoustic roots—he’s not lost any steam. Visions is the third in a loose trilogy of albums, which began with 2012’s Maraqopa, followed by 2014’s critically-acclaimed Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Sun. Once again enlisting the help of producer Richard Swift, this album has a sound that fills up a seemingly infinite space, with Jurado‘s voice and the cinematic-yet-subtle orchestration echoing through the desolate desert setting of his surreal spiritual journey concluded in this last installation of concept albums. While he’s shown no signs of halting his fervent musical trajectory, it’s safe to say that Visions of Us on the Land and its album brethren would be a triumphant closing chapter for Damien Jurado, and—to quote the album’s outro—we’d remember him the way he is right now, reveling in his brilliance.
Who | Lucius
When | Thursday, April 21
Where | Privatclub, Berlin
For fans of: Jenny Lewis, The Mynabirds, The Lone Bellow
If the “girl power” movement of the 90s made a comeback, you can be sure that Lucius’s hit 2013 song ‘Wildewoman’ would be sung as an anthem at the forefront. Though not composed entirely of women, this five-piece Americana-tinged indie pop act is definitely defined by the striking voices and tight harmonies of lead singers Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig. While their music is often very sweet, the Brooklyn band has done a good job of not letting it go overboard, always maintaining a crunchy, biting sound in their songwriting. Released this past March, their newest album, Good Grief, finds them taking a much more polished route, leaving behind some of the folkier elements of their debut LP and instead focusing on the synth-heavy, electronic side of things. One thing they’ll never ditch, however, are rousing choruses powerful enough to move the masses. The result is a sleek and impeccably produced homage to the best bits of 80s pop with a ever-so-slightly country twist, maybe something that only a group like Lucius could pull off, and they do do so with pizazz.