JD McPherson conjures the sound of Fifties-style rock & roll so lovingly that you can practically see Sam Phillips grinning from the control room while McPherson howls away in the studio. When he wasn’t busy teaching art at a Tulsa middle school, the former punk rocker cut Signs & Signifiers using vintage mics, stand-up bass and slap-back echo for a sound that recalls raw mid-Fifties Sun Records hits – Elvis Presley, Charlie Feathers – as well as pre-rock R&B stars like Big Joe Turner. McPherson may sound like a purist, but he’s a sharp songwriter, and his punk spirit and wry wordplay make this more than just a time trip. On the jumping “Dimes for Nickels,” he laments a walletsucking affair: “Pawned a long gold chain and my Chippendale rocker/A sauvignon blanc and a Black Johnnie Walker.” His loss is some sweaty rock club’s gain.
Listen to ‘Signs & Signifiers’