David Lowery The Palace Guards
David Lowery has been making snarky, off-kilter roots music for more than 25 years, first with ’80s college-rock pioneers Camper Van Beethoven, then with ’90s alt-rock hitmaker Cracker. On his first-ever solo record, The Palace Guards, Lowery sticks with his usual stoner-country sound, skirting jokiness on the loopy title track, and eclipsing it on “I Sold The Arabs The Moon,” a wistful confession of life’s lies and cons in waltz-time. The surprising thing about The Palace Guards is that Lowery still writes sarcastic, knowing David Lowery songs about as well as he ever has. The humor of Lowery’s Camper/Cracker material has been dialed back a bit, but he remains playful and spry on the galloping cow-punk opener, “Raise ’Em Up On Honey,” and the record’s funniest and most rocking song, “Baby, All Those Girls Meant Nothing To Me,” where Lowery slips back into the comfortable role of the guileless asshole. The Palace Guards is equally good at being gorgeous, particularly on the illusory “Deep Oblivion,” where a spaced-out Lowery weaves surreal imagery about “a place below the sea… cold, bright, and white.” It’s delivered with a sly grin, but like the rest of The Palace Guards, it’s seriously good.