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Signs & Signifiers

4.8 out of 5 stars 176 customer reviews

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Audio CD, April 17, 2012
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Editorial Reviews

2012 album from the critically adored R&B/Rock singer/songwriter. Signs & Signifiers finds this renaissance man/hepcat seamlessly meshing the old and the new, the primal and the sophisticated, on a work that will satisfy traditional American Rock 'n' Roll and R&B purists while also exhibiting McPherson's rarefied gift for mixing and matching disparate stylistic shapes and textures. Recorded on analog equipment through vintage microphones and a 1960s Berlant 1/4 inch tape machine, Signs & Signifiers marks the arrival of an authentic, gutsy true American artist.
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Digital Booklet: Signs & Signifiers
Digital Booklet: Signs & Signifiers
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (April 17, 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Rounder
  • ASIN: B00772M1F6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,039 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. O'Brien on February 6, 2011
Format: Audio CD
This is a great album from start to finish and is just fun pure rock n roll. It has a good fifties rockabilly feel to it and JD McPherson either wrote or helped write ten of the twelve songs on here which is nice. He has great vocals and is also a very talented guitarist as well. I just saw these guys perform all week at The Surf Ballroom for the 2011 Winter Dance Party Tribute to Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and Big Bopper and this band was unbelievable live. Great songs and great energy. It is always nice to get an album you can listen to from start to finish and not have to skip any of the songs. I liked all the songs, but the standout tracks in my opinion are "North Side Gal", "Fire Bug", "Wolf Teeth", "B.G.M.O.S.R.N.R.", and "Scandalous". I would highly recommend this if you like rockabilly or fifties rock and you should also check out his album he did when he was with The Starkweather Boys called "Archer St. Blues" released in 2007. Great cd also.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I was listening to XRT ((chicago) and the DJ hyped the heck out of North Side Girl before they played it and I was ready to be disappointed. I wasn't,it was and is awesome. I have played it for 3 different generations of people and everyone has loved it. North Side girl is my five year old son's new favorite song. I bought they album and it is one of the most solid albums I have bought in a long time. Buy it, treasure it and play it for anyone who likes music.
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So, I went home, found the download on Amazon and purchased it. From the NPR interview, McPherson was originally a punker from the mid west. Someone gave him a double disc set of a Buddy Holly compilation and that 'scratched an itch' for him, and why not? The original theory behind punk is that it gets back to the roots of rock n' roll, before it was 'polished'. Back to the Days of Little Richard, The Fat Man or Little Milton! Check out the double disc Sun sessions of Elvis and you've got an idea of what this is all about! This is that good! McPherson even went to the extent of using microphones from the 50's and 60's and recording on a standard professional studio tape machine from the 60's. Yes, analog! If you like the Black Keys, you will really love this one. There are a couple of sleepers on the disc, but they are worth hearing again, and again, because they will grow on you. I hope he comes here to Reno, because i understand he puts on a really good live show! Maybe the next album will actually be available on vinyl!
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Sounds like he did this at Sun Studios with Sam Phillips behind the console yet he still managed to make it sound new. At least that's how it sounds to me. I've liked all of them so far. "Country Boy", which I think is the single, is extremely good.
Have no idea what genre to put it in except the one called "Good".
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Format: Audio CD
You may be familiar with J.D McPhearson's Northside Girl having been given surprisingly `heavy rotation' on BBC Radio recently. Had it been released in the mid 50's it may well have sunk without a trace in an era that boasted Little Richard, Chuck Berry and Gene Vincent - but here in the second decade of the 21st century it appears like an ice cold Peroni in a hot house of horse pucky.

Although unashamedly retro in design, Signs & Signifiers is no straight nostalgia trip. No note for note Scotty Moore/Cliff Gallup licks here - S & S brings some new flavours to the pot and suggests the past isn't quite over yet and that the future's due a reboot. For instance the title track is a moody voodoo chant reminiscent of something from Springsteen's Nebraska album... but with better vocals.
And what vocals! - Like a polite Little Richard with heavy shades of Wynonie Harris, Bunker Hill, Jackie Wilson and Fats Domino, McPheason is accompanied by a phenomenal band recorded with old school RCA ribbon microphones on to analogue tape. Lyrically S&S breaks no barriers but the overall sound is poetry enough. Every track is a master class in sonic excellence - the Telecaster honks like a brass section, the drums snap and rattle like they're supposed to and those Saxes pour out of the speakers like honey.

Signs & Signifiers, along with Chris Issacs' new `Beyond the Sun' album and Richard Hawley's current Rockabilly show on Radio 2 - not to mention a massive underground fan base that's never gone away - you could be forgiven for believing that the 50's revival that's been building since Jan 1st 1960 has almost arrived.
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Wow! What an album. I heard an interview on NPR and ordered the CD. I played it first in the car and I was rockin' all the way to work! Great rock and roll. Reminscent of the 50's. My wife and I are dancin' to the music now. Jitterbugging in our living room. If you like rock and roll you will like this CD-Signs and Signifiers. JD I am waitin' for the next one.
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Format: Audio CD
What an album - I love it! First off, vocally, JD is a rock 'n' roll chameleon. Growly or smooth, it all sounds great. As far as influences, there's a lot of Little Richard and Jackie Wilson shining through. Oh yes, and the ghost of Bunker Hill's "Hide 'n' Go Seek" in the magnificent, stuttering "Wolf Teeth."
My favorites are the scorchers: "Fire Bug," "Wolf Teeth," and "Scratching Circles." I've also been replaying the intense, genre-stretching numbers: "Signs and Signifiers" and "A Gentle Awakening."
And for the unexpected surprise, the lyrics! There's a nice poetic bent here that reminds me of Chuck Berry - setting an atmosphere, conjuring an image, simply playing with the sound. "Rollin' the rock in the salt candy shop." Gold capped teeth, Chevrolets, bacon rinds, armadillos, crows ... they're all here.
Bottom line: JD sounds like he's giving it his all, which is more refreshing than it should be; the band is tight; the sound is clear. Thanks, guys, for leavin' a little magic.
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