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Archer Prewitt with the National Front and Josh Rouse

Triangle pop lovers are pretty familiar with Chicagoan Archer Prewitt from his many visits here, either in his early days with The Cocktails, his jazzy stylings with The Sea and Cake or his '60s-influenced solo albums, which stand as devotionals to his songwriting heroes. On his latest album, Three (with its powerful Big Star moves and lush strings), we find Prewitt fully plugged into the orchestrated pop sound of the mid-'70s. Worth celebrating is Prewitt's aggressive approach to the music, creating a sound that recalls his icons but stands wholly on its own. The arrangements are densely layered but not to the point of being commercially slick and without character. Prewitt also swaggers more--even using different voices--as compared to the understated singing on his previous efforts. On Three, he calls out to "take it all sweet baby with another kiss," and inserts "One, two, three, four!" and deep "Oohs!" on the track "No Defense." But between the album's slower introspective moments you'll find some of the highest rock/pop numbers to grace your speakers over the past year. Cheers to a new, mature direction from the man. Along for the ride is Chicago's National Front, a project of newcomer Neil Rosario, and critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Josh Rouse. Catch 'em at the Cat's Cradle Friday, June 19. --Chris Toenes

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