Wovenhand Credit: courtesy the artist

Much of the country’s Americana, roots rock, and alt-country may exist in living homage to what Greil Marcus famously called the “old, weird America” (as if America had somehow ceased to be weird)—but I’ve always got my ear out for the present-day weird America. It’s been exported out and brought back to us for decades; consider that strange, shamanic strain of country-gothic swagger from the likes of Fields of the Nephilim (Brits) and early/mid-period Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds (mostly Aussies). If you put that sort of mysticism and grandeur into the hands of a crack band led by a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of the caliber of 16 Horsepower veteran David Eugene Edwards—who knows American music from the bones up and whose visionary, mystical Christianity is absolutely sincere—you get Wovenhand, who I think are the greatest band this genre has produced to date. Their eighth full-length, Star Treatment (recorded by Sanford Parker and released on Sargent House), has a loose theme of celestial prophecy, and continues darkening and densening their distinctive sound. Album opener “Come Brave” sounds like an update of a Blackfeet or Molly Hatchett barn burner, and the following track, “Swaying Reed,” has a drony, remote neofolk melancholy that reminds me of classic 16 Horsepower tracks like “Horsehead Fiddle” and sets up a platform for bone-shaking psychedelic preaching. If Edwards told me to take up serpents I just might do it.   v