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Alternative & Indie - Released January 25, 2019 | Captured Tracks

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 4, 2014 | Captured Tracks

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. ~ Fred Thomas
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 1, 2019 | Captured Tracks

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 5, 2018 | Captured Tracks

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 13, 2018 | Captured Tracks

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 12, 2015 | Captured Tracks

Former Beets frontman Juan Wauters' second full-length Who Me? was recorded in two weeks in autumn 2014, and feels slightly more polished and cohesive than his solo debut, NAP: North American Poetry, which was recorded over the course of several sessions between 2010 and 2012. Like his debut, Who Me? finds Wauters continuing to hone his songwriting skills through Velvet Underground-inspired indie rock, which is more acoustic and folk-leaning than the garage rock of his previous band. Musically, his songs seem pleasant and easygoing, but his lyrics point toward uncertainty and self-doubt, with the brief "Misbehave" asking "why do I choose wrong?" Similarly, "I'm All Wrong" has a catchy, feel-good rhythm aided by handclaps, and the song even dissolves into applause at the end, but Wauters returns to the refrain "and I don't care if you know that I'm all wrong." "She Might Get Shot" has such a gentle rhythm that it might be easy to overlook the uneasiness of some of the lyrics, especially given the applause and light-hearted monologue that end the song. The album succeeds most during more fully arranged songs such as "Grey Matter" and "Todo Terminó," where the poppy melodies serve as a foil to the worrisome lyrics. In a surprising turn, the album's most lo-fi moments come during the amusingly amateur raps that close out the album, during which Wauters nods to LL Cool J. Like its predecessor, Who Me? is a showcase for Wauters' quirky, likeable personality, and balances introspective lyrics with laid-back instrumentation. ~ Paul Simpson