Matthew Houck and friends, better known as Phosphorescent, are an alt-country/indie-folk/whathaveyou outfit originally from Athens Georgia, a town of great rock pedigree, now residing in Brooklyn. Prolific recording under the Phosphorescent moniker, Houck has cut five records since 2003 including the Willie Nelson tribute album, To Willie that brings to light just how dark the country star could be.
In his own right, Houck's latest, Here's To Taking It Easy is far more upbeat than 2007's equally brilliant, yet more melancholy Pride. Opener 'It's Hard To Be Humble' sets the tone with horns and honky tonk while 'I don't care if there's cursing' carries on that copacetic attitude of the album title - Phosphorescent are here for a good time, not a long time so if the beer runs out, well it ain't worth sticking 'round. 'The Mermaid Parade' is a dreamy slow roll 'n' sway named after the Coney Island festival while 'Heaven, Sittin Down' feels cut from the Willie writing book about a tiring but content life on the road.
However, 'Hej, Me I'm Light' shifts gear as a hypnotic, eerie and atmospheric track with a gospel sound and simple chorus that builds in intensity with mesmerising effect. Meanwhile final track 'Los Angeles' sprawls like the city in sluggish heat with slow heavy steps and slide guitar for a full eight minutes and feels like a modern-day western soundtrack.
In Amsterdam on a press day before returning again for show at Bitterzoet on 6 June, a few cowboy boots converged on scuzzy converse as Matthew and band stopped into the Subbacultcha headquarters. With cocktails in hand and a sun who came to the party occasionally, a small and lucky audience, a few which were cameramen, gathered on the building's rooftop, privy to a performance by Houck. While the rest of the band knocked back mojitos and strawberry dacquiris and chimed in occasional harmonies, Matthew played new tracks 'We'll Be Here Soon', 'The Mermaid Parade' and 'Heaven, Sittin Down' to the city - to the church steeples, canal houses and noisy trams. See 'Mermaid Parade' below (you might even spot my ugly mug) and check out the new album and his great back catalogue.
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