Mark Pickerel and His Praying Hands, ‘Tess’ (Candy Cross)
Mark Pickerel has long been one of the more interesting and eclectic talents in the Pacific Northwest, drumming for the Screaming Trees and the grunge power trio Truly, a session musician for the likes of Brandi Carlile and Neko Case, and stepping into the spotlight as lead vocalist in his own bands, the Dark Fantastic and his new group, “His Praying Hands.”
On “Tess,” Pickerel’s first album since 2008’s “Cody’s Dream,” Pickerel’s voice is soaked in moody regret, a sinuous baritone that somehow manages to make lost love sound more enticing than the kind that lasts. In Pickerel’s hands, love gone wrong certainly results in more intriguing songs, as in “Your Wild West,” which seems to channel the loping stride of the Doors’ “People Are Strange.”
Pickerel, who sings and plays acoustic guitar, has more than a little of the Doors’ Jim Morrison in him, in both his vocal delivery and the wry playfulness of his lyrics (“We build the traps like working rats/They build their fortunes on our backs”). His musicians provide suitably atmospheric alt-country backing on Pickerel’s lost highway ramblings.
Other new releases
Star Anna, “Go to Hell” (Spark and Shine)
MGMT, “MGMT” (Columbia)
Sebadoh, “Defend Yourself” (Joyful Noise)