I’ll admit that I had certain negative expectations of LA’s Whispertown 2000, the first act to release something on Acony Records besides owners Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. But can you blame me? The name is awful close to Whiskeytown, and bassist Carey Wisenbaker was sporting overalls and a straw hat on the album cover, and so I approached Swim with trepidation. But it wasn’t long before the wonderfully, slightly ragged vocal harmonies by bandleader (and child actor) Morgan Nagler and Vanesa Corbala sucked me in. Wish I’d found the time to give the record more than a single listen when it was released last fall, because every time I’ve played it in the last week it’s grabbed me more.

The quartet’s seductively catchy songs are loosely rooted in country-folk forms, but Nagler’s melodic sensibility connects her to indie pop–Jenny Lewis is an old pal and supporter–and it’s the distance between those two things that makes the music on the group’s debut album Swim work so well. For the most part the instrumental support is lean (fourth member Tod Adrian Wisenbaker doubles on guitar and drums)–mostly propulsive strumming that gives Nagler’s dry twang a basic structure to follow. At times she seems to play up the imperfections–cracked notes, momentary dissonance in her harmonies with Corbala–but they’ve proven charming rather than irritating to me.

Whispertown 2000 opens for Maria Taylor tonight at Schubas.

The Whispertown 2000 – “Old Times” Video from Whispertown 2000 on Vimeo.

Today’s playlist:Vetiver, Tight Knit (Sub Pop)

Berangere Maximin, Tant que les Heures Passent (Tzadik)
Serge Baghdassarians, Boris Baltschun, Lars Scherzberg, and Jacob Thein, Ilinx (FMP)
Various Artists, Poetry and Languid Charm: Swahili Music From Tanzania and Kenya (Topic)
Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, The Vodoun Effect 1972-1975 (Analog Africa)