Juan Wauters

NAP: North American Poetry

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As a songwriter and founding member of Brooklyn Luddite garage rockers the Beets, Juan Wauters' songs often took the form of bratty two-chord stompers and ramshackle oddball loner punk that called on the lineage of the Velvet Underground, the Modern Lovers, and the Feelies. With his first solo album, NAP: North American Poetry, Wauters takes a somewhat gentler approach, leaning toward a breezier and more laid-back tone with carefree acoustic pop and low-key songs occasionally sung in Spanish. The album was recorded at various sessions at Marlborough Farms between 2010 and 2012, and thusly has the pleasantly drifting feel of a collection of ideas cobbled together over the course of several years. Opening with the snotty ramble of "Let Me Hip You to Something," Wauters, alone with his guitar, would fit in easily on a playlist with the Fugs, the Red Krayola, the Godz, or any late-'60s bearded freak folk acts. Upbeat tracks like "Sanity or Not" and "Woke Up Feeling Like Sleeping" could pass for Beets outtakes with fewer layers of electric guitar, and when guest vocalist Carmelle Safdie steps in near the album's end for lighthearted yet brash tracks "Breathing" and "How Do They All Do?," the sounds take on the same collaborative feel of some of the Beets' material. North American Poetry is at its best, however, when Wauters strips away the slight clutter and lets his most introspective thoughts, questions, and feelings flow. Beautifully simple tunes like "Water" and the lovely album closer "Ay Ay Ay" feel soft and unassuming, and at the same time present Wauters' internal core of wandering, blissful confusion in the most fearless and straightforward moments of the entire set.

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