Harper Simon’s first record was delicate and rounded around the edges. Apparently, the interest in that sort of finesse can only last for so long. For Division Street, his excellent sophomore effort, Simon recruited a guest list of indie musicians to rival the National’s and put the man responsible for the production on Elliott Smith’s XO, Either/Or and Figure 8, and Beck’s Mellow Gold behind the boards. The end result is all gloriously jagged shard and bits of shrapnel.
Simon sounds more confident in his new lo-fi settings and doesn’t hesitate in adding atmospheric layer for some moments of sharp contrast. These are 11 of the most invigorating lo-fi rock n’ roll tracks you’re likely to hear all year. While Division Street does threaten to dissolve into monotony at around the three-fourths mark, Simon wisely injects some of his more frail numbers and winds up with a triumph.