Two helpings of rootsy strum-and-twang from unexpected sources this week, beginning with an appearance by the hardy indie vets in Jets to Brazil at Trees on Friday night. Singer-guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach, as every magazine and newspaper profile written for the rest of his life will happily inform you, used to front the fervent Bay Area pop-punk trio Jawbreaker, a band loved by many proud denizens of the underground and ignored by many more mainstream rock fans once the group signed to a major label. Perfecting Loneliness, the third album Schwarzenbach's released with the Jets, feels like the product of someone carrying around that kind of baggage: It's handsome but ragged guitar-rock whose little stylistic touches--staticky field recordings, yawning lap steel, lots of creamy keybs--attempt to soften the blow of Schwarzenbach's inevitable and time-tested melancholy. Most of the time they don't succeed. The urban cowboys in London's Grand Drive, at Gypsy Tea Room on Monday, fare better on their new self-titled CD, a made-for-Yanks collection of cuts from the group's three U.K.-only full-lengths. Songwriters (and brothers) Danny and Julian Wilson hit all the thematic bases you'd expect them to--"It's hard when you feel that no one really cares," "I can barely recognize this place," "I'll be in a bar/I'll sit by the door"--but their breezy West Coast arrangements and knot-tight harmonies make the familiarity comfortable, not tedious. Who'll join the coalition of the willing to support English Americana?
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