I love music that balances the rootsy with the off-kilter and unsettling, ending up with country music captured in deep space—your Souled American and Geraldine Fibbers of the world. I love bands with a large membership and, contrary to logic, a less cluttered sound than groups half their size—your Lambchop and Tindersticks of the world. And, man, do I love a sea shanty.
Thusly hardwired, I was instantly smitten when Shipwrecker washed ashore. The Durham six-piece combines all those above loves, leaving plenty of space for accordion to avoid stepping on the toes of lap steel and ukulele. The opening "Angry God," best described as dramatic and briny, sets the mood. And the closer, "Drinkin's All I Got," sets the perfect scene—favorite cassette still in the player, favorite-chair imprints still in the carpet—to lead you into the titular gut-punch line. Granted, the slow tempos (the exception being the jittery, Djangly "John Frum," a speedboat among rowboats) might not wear well over extended time. But this five-song EP offers the perfect portion, especially with the brilliant "Powder and Sweat" holding down the center. It's Davy Jones meets George Jones. It's Ennio Morricone scoring Pirates of the Caribbean 4: Curse of the Blazing Freckles. And it's the perfect roots-orchestral, country-and-Neptune sea shanty.
Shipwrecker plays The Pinhook Friday, Feb. 26, at midnight. Mosadi Music and Knives and Daggers open. The show costs $5.