Johnny and the Moon Johnny and the Moon

Dante DeCaro has made his share of ruckus in both Hot Hot Heat and Wolf Parade, but for his own project he pulls out the acoustic guitar, banjos and heads to the same rural recording cabin that spawned recent discs by Blood Meridian and Swan Lake. Heading to the woods with a new band does wonders for DeCaro’s solo act, which when it first surfaced in Montreal in 2005 was a thoroughly unconvincing hipster hayseed act. Maybe it’s just because on disc we can’t see him chewing gum and sneering at the audience but DeCaro is a bit more believable here when he sings, "I am a mountain man/from the high jagged land.” The band arrangements and refreshingly raw production not only flesh out some of the more threadbare songs but adds some unconventional textures as well when ghostly keyboards compete with saloon pianos and scratchy violin. The further out he goes, the better, although DeCaro tackles the album’s finest track, "All Things Gonna Come Back Around,” with just acoustic guitar and harmonica. If this keeps up, Wolf Parade’s side-projects will soon overshadow the band itself. (Kill Devil Hills)