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Preview: Peter Matthew Bauer 

Noah Bonaparte Pais on the musician who’s playing Gasa Gasa with Ben Jones and Skyler Skjelset July 23

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I once shared a limo with Peter Matthew Bauer and My Morning Jacket. I was writing a story about Jim James at Lollapalooza 2007; Bauer, who played organ and bass with the Walkmen, came along for the ride to a Chicago nightclub. Two things about him stayed with me: He had a wickedly dry sense of humor, and he loved The Jesus Lizard. Other than his austere work on The Walkmen LPs — up to and including 2012 deliverance Heaven, after which the band went on indefinite hiatus — that was how I knew him, as a bit player in a bizarre night six years ago. This season has now seen three Walkmen solo releases, and Bauer's Liberation! (Mexican Summer) stands the tallest, edging Walter Martin's surprise childhood scrapbook We're All Young Together while easily beating Hamilton Leithauser's Rat Packed Black Hours. With its globe-circling mantras, live-mic ambience and quasi-religious, thoroughly spiritual lyrical themes, Liberation! seems likely to be the best record of 2014 that doesn't appear on any best-of-2014 lists. There's just so much to grab on to here: Bauer hops continents as often as ideologies and genres, moving from the opening swirl of "I Was Born in an Ashram" straight into the album's best anthem, "Latin American Ficciones," a classic-rock howl at the moon that pits the singer between vintage Toms Petty and Verlaine. Most of the time, he's messing around. "Philadelphia Raga" does kind of sound like Kurt Vile cross-legged on a mountaintop, but "Irish Wake in Varanasi (For Big Pete Devlin)" is actually the pop song, led by the Walkmen's trademark guitar tremolo. "Istanbul Field Recordings" could be exactly that, yet "Shaved Heads & Pony Tails" is catchier than any reference to orthodox Hindu hairstyling has any right to be. The only thing missing is a David Yow shout. Ben Jones and Fleet Foxes' Skyler Skjelset open. Tickets $10.


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