The Lineup

Naked Gods

Boone, N.C.

Scraggly fellows with charisma and a loose manner, you probably met Naked Gods at happy hour. They’re unabashed and unaffected, letting their spirit just spill out of them. They’re Super Furry Animals getting their Wilco on, or maybe Blitzen Trapper hitting the Pavement. Sometimes they just like to chill, droning out to a folky melody while letting rootsy psych wash over them. But then Naked Gods’ ADD kicks in, and they make a quick angular turn and spin off into dissonance or knottiness before you can even catch their names. Yeah, they’re elusive.

The quintet formed in Boone, N.C., about four years ago. By the end of 2008, they had released their debut, Welcome Home. The debut’s songs don’t suddenly take off in another direction like a dog chasing traffic. They’re still woolly, but the debut’s more reminiscent of Built to Spill, with the arrangements racing through swelling thickets of guitar and organs. The follow-up, last year’s No Jams, is more like off-roading. There’s no expected course; they could go off at any time in almost any direction. But they have such a confident glint in their eye, and the hooks are so winning, it’s hard to say no when their woodsy manner gets freaky.

Not only are the arrangements more dynamic and less predictable, but the harmonies are even stronger, amplifying their ample pop smarts. It’s this gift for insistent melodies and harmonies that seals your obedience. The combination of catchy quirk and fleet-footed adventure always seems to be hot on the trail of a good time. —Chris Parker