Shakey Graves is the stage name of Alejandro Rose-Garcia, a singer/songwriter out of Austin, Texas. At this point in his creative career he is best known as an actor; besides roles in several movies (most recently Sin City: A Dame to Kill For), he had a recurring role as a hunky lifeguard in the television series "Friday Night Lights."
Rose-Garcia refers to his music as "hobo folk," a moniker as good as any. His fingerpicking, either on acoustic or electric guitar, is spare and tasty. On his new album, And the War Came, tracks like "The Perfect Parts" and "If Not for You" have moments of thick, electric fuzz as aggressive as anything you'd hear on early Black Keys or a Scott Biram record, but they don't stay there. "The Perfect Parts" pulls back into a moody ramble, stripped down to simple notes over a thumping floor tom-driven drum cadence, before ramping back to fuzzy riffs. It's a little formulaic, but is handled masterfully.
Vocals and melody carry these 12 songs, and the trio of tracks where Rose-Garcia duets vocally with Esmé Patterson (founding member of Denver indie-folksters Paper Bird) are excellent. In particular, "Big Time Nashville Star" shines; the two artists sound as if they've been singing together forever. Throw in some stellar slide guitar figures and a snappy guitar line and you have an outstanding contribution to one of the better alt/folk/pop records of the year.