ROWLAND S. HOWARD: Pop Crimes: CD

This is a reissue of Rowland S. Howard’s second solo album, which was also his final release—it was originally released only months before his death in 2009. Howard’s legendary stint in The Birthday Party will be most listeners’ point of reference, and the reference is solid. Like much of his earlier work, Pop Crimes is a sparse, plodding offering that is both sultry and unsettling. Howard’s resonant drawl seems to seep up from under the surface of every song, through the title track’s primitive backbeat and “Wayward Man”‘s squealing guitar effects. With songs creeping into six- and seven-minute territory, this album is probably best enjoyed as an atmospheric experience—as long as you like your atmosphere dismal and brooding. Thank god the sun is shining and I didn’t have to play this on repeat in the middle of winter. 

 –Indiana Laub (Fat Possum)