The opener at the State House on Sunday night was The Proud Flesh. Now, you know that eerie hour of the night, when branches in the wind sound like ghosts, and ghosts sound like branches in the wind, and you ask yourself: “What would it have sounded like if Pink Floyd had existed during the Great Depression?”
World, meet psych-Americana. Add electric guitars to stand-up bass, pair the aural distortion of psychedelic rock with the vocal harmonies of folk, phrase your lyrics like a murder ballad or 1930s protest blues but tackle the dusty despair of driving a cubicle in the heartless city, and above all, wear plaid. The result is a weirdly timeless blend of fears about your place in the world with the wish fulfillment of really rockin’ guitar riffs.
On the first song, the sound feels experimental. By the third, it feels surprisingly organic, as if obviously when Johnny came marching home, he brought an electric six-string. That guitar distortion underscores the haunted New England feel — and if it turned out that two or three of the audience were ghosts of someone’s grandfather, nobody would be more than mildly surprised, as long as they wore plaid.
“Charred Old Glory” gives a fair sense of the concept, though some songs rock harder. Don’t assume you know the whole story in the hauntingly sparse opening, which wouldn’t be out of place from an old man with a banjo on the steps of a tar-papered shack.