Nearly everything I’ve read about 24-year-old Texas singer-songwriter MICAH P. HINSON spends more time pulping up his backstory than discussing his work. Lurid though his press-kit bio is (evil model girlfriend, drug abuse, jail time for prescription forgery, homeless at 19, yada yada yada), you don’t need it to appreciate his debut full-length. Micah P. Hinson and the Gospel of Progress (Overcoat) is at heart a breakup album, full of melancholy resignation and hopeful hindsight. Yet for all his insistence that things are OK now, there’s a quality in Hinson’s wavering, frequently multitracked baritone that suggests he’s just kidding himself. When he sings, “I still remember thinking / How lovely it could be / To hold you for eternity / Or at least until you fell asleep,” it sounds like he’s reliving the tale as he spins it. Dusky, shifting folk-rock arrangements–courtesy of the Earlies, a bicontinental chamber-pop outfit featuring some of the singer’s old buddies from Abilene–mirror this uncertainty, with a depth that’s sometimes spacious and austere and sometimes dense and orchestral. Many start with Hinson picking out a pretty acoustic guitar part; slowly the band heightens the tension behind him, using standard rock-band instrumentation along with some well-placed strings and horns; then it all fades away. Hinson performs solo here. –Peter Margasak
There are plenty of second acts in American rock careers, but Eric Bachmann’s is still something of a surprise: his old band Archers of Loaf never did much to suggest he had in him an indie-ballad record as great as CROOKED FINGERS’ new Dignity and Shame (Merge). Flourishes proliferate as the arrangements unfold–see the slightly Calexicoid instrumental “Islero,” or singer Lara Meyerratken adding sweet harmony and counterpoint all over the place, most hauntingly on the hooky “Twilight Creeps”–but they’re never just complexity for complexity’s sake. With hummable tunes and luminous colors filling out his rather gruffly romantic worldview, Bachmann takes a too-often pedestrian form and gives it fresh wings. –Monica Kendrick
Static Films opens, Hinson plays second, and Crooked Fingers headline. Wed 4/6, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, 773-478-4408 or 866-468-3401, $12 in advance, $14 at
the door, 18+.