Music & Nightlife

JD McPherson’s brand of rock gets better with age

JD McPherson released his critically acclaimed new album last week.
JD McPherson released his critically acclaimed new album last week. JIMMY SUTTON

Music may be considered a young man’s game, but when critically acclaimed band leader JD McPherson released his debut album, “Signs & Signifiers,” in 2010, he was already in his 30s.

The independent album was picked up and re-released by Americana label Rounder Records in 2012, and McPherson found himself a critical darling, adored for his raucous live shows and fired-up take on classic ’50s and ’60s rock ’n’ roll and R&B.

It’s safe to say expectations for his second album – “Let the Good Times Roll,” released earlier this month – are different than the first.

“When the first one was released, there was absolutely no expectation,” says McPherson, who plays Visulite Theatre on Sunday night. “I’m talking about the pre-Rounder (Records) days. It was an art project. I was working full time as a teacher. I had no idea what would happen in a year.”

It’s not that McPherson wasn’t making music in his teens and 20s. He just wasn’t making this music.

“I had never been without a band since I was 16 years old. I always made it a priority. Just ask my wife,” says McPherson, a father of kids ages 10 and 7. “I really think I didn’t have anything to say until I was in my 30s – not anything worth presenting outside my regional gigs. That sounds cynical, but I don’t think I had my act together. Finding the right band is a big part of it.”

Listening to “Let the Good Times Roll” and its predecessor, “Signs & Signifiers,” few would say McPherson hasn’t got his act together. The guitars on “Let the Good Times Roll” reverberate like electrified elastic, the drums and piano add more to the landscape than a backbeat and support, and McPherson howls with passion.

It’s also eclectic in a seamless way. While he and his band love old time rock n’ roll and Little Richard in particular, he’s also a fan of the Pixies, the Smiths and Led Zeppelin, as well as current bands such as Best Coast and Alvvays. Those subtle influences add texture and depth to the songs.

What would a McPherson album have sounded like in his 20s? “Oh, man. It would’ve been the most boneheaded record you ever heard in your life,” he says.

“There’s something weird about some of the punk-rocker guys in the ’80s. Black Flag, Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat, the guys from Bad Brains – they had this incredible wisdom in their late teens and 20s. I didn’t have any wisdom at all. In high school, it was stream-of-consciousness stuff. When I started getting around people and playing, I was just re-creating what I liked. I wasn’t playing anything original and trying to push the envelope. It took a music career presenting itself to me to give me the courage to extend myself with writing.”

Courtney’s blog: cltsoundbites.blogspot.com

PREVIEW

JD McPherson

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday.

WHERE: Visulite Theatre, 1615 Elizabeth Ave.

TICKETS: $15-$18.

DETAILS: 704-358-9200; www.visulite.com.

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