Gary Higgins Seconds

Long-delayed follow-ups always mix anticipation with trepidation. Higgins's 1973 release, Red Hash, had been one of those lost classics, famously championed by Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), who, with Zach Cowie, eventually ferreted out Higgins and secured a reissue on Drag City. Prison time from a drug conviction and settling into family life had kept him quiet. Now, 36 years later, Seconds presents an artist who is weathered, reinvigorated and, curiously, both influenced and complicated by modern folk elements. Opener "Demons" mixes the fog of nostalgia with some arch post-hippie wit (puking in the trunk of a sell-out's Mercedes) and drops a little harpsichord on the bridge. In short, it's fantastic. A couple of psychedelic pieces follow that warp English folk and Weird America into a pre-colonial smorgasbord. The "5 A.M. Trilogy" suite shines, proving Chasny's point all too well. Only a couple of so-so tracks ("Mr. Blew" and "When I Was Young") come across like David Crosby filler, which isn't so bad, really. This is an excellent first paragraph in this second chapter. (Drag City)