13Ghosts Cicada

From the Deep South of Birmingham, AL comes the enigmatic 13Ghosts, a quartet of Southern gents led by the formidable songwriting team of Brad Armstrong and Buzz Russell. Cicada, the band’s third album but first in four years, is a double-length affair whose songs of alcohol, love and death lurch into one another with intoxicating abandon. The band’s eclecticism and generally restless nature is ultimately their greatest strength, allowing them to drift straight from the exhausted lament of "Ain’t It Low,” for example, into the lo-fi indie pop of "Trodden Way” and then to the unhinged country rock of "Just Got Dead” with an amiably slapdash, if not seamless, ease. Much of the rest of Cicada is similarly unpredictable — haunted country gospel numbers stand jarringly side by each with jagged indie rock-outs before the boozy, Basement Tapes-like sing-along of "Nobody’s Hero” ends the album on a suitably ragged note. (MVD)