Matthew Houck just might have been born in the wrong decade.
The newest album from Houck, 30, and his alt-country band, Phosphorescent — “Here’s to Taking It Easy” — takes a nod from an earlier era, with touchstones including 1970s-era Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Ronnie Wood and Steve Forbert records.
“I definitely wanted to try as straightforward of a record as I could make,” said Houck, who got on the indie map in 2007 with “Pride,” and then again two years later with “To Willie,” his tribute to country legend Willie Nelson. “In terms of having a classic rock record, I think of the ’70s era. Records from that period all have a weird sound to them that makes them really big and warm. I was aiming for that when I was making this thing.”
Things start off big thanks to some rollicking horns on the jaunty “It’s Hard to Be Humble (When You’re From Alabama).” Houck’s not kidding about that humility, or lack thereof — the name of his last album of original material, remember, was “Pride.”
After that initial bang, the rest of the disc is laid-back, countrified rock, such as the hooting “I Don’t Care if There’s Cursing” and the lovely “Nothing Was Stolen (Love Me Foolishly).” There are also remnants of the darker, gothic “Pride,” such as in the chanting, incomprehensible, almost religious experience of “Hej, Me I’m Light.”
The majority of the nine-track album, though, out on May 11, deals with the usual rock inspiration — women. In “The Mermaid Parade,” a “straight-forward narrative song” about a failed relationship, the Coney Island spectacle serves as a distraction to the lovelorn protagonist of the song.
“I love the topless women, mainly,” said Houck of his title inspiration. “That’s always a delight.”
Needless to say though, with Houck’s tearjerker of a voice, it’s not becoming the official parade anthem anytime soon.
When not wandering Surf Avenue, Houck can be found at his studio, a loft in an old factory near the Navy Yard, or enjoying the vibe at the Bell House in Gowanus.
For his album release though, Houck turns to a smaller venue — Williamsburg’s Union Pool — for an intimate show on May 11 with his band, comprised of members of Brooklyn’s Virgin Forest, who joined Houck on the road a couple years back and never left.
Until now, Houck has been wary of playing the new tracks live — the band just got off a three-month tour with David Gray — instead wanting to keep things fresh. If he does gets bored, Houck should have new songs soon, as the musician is always listening to his muse. And after tackling Willie and now rock, he’s ready for something new.
“I’m already into a bunch of new songs, taking a spin in a new direction,” said Houck. “I’m looking forward to being able to push some of those boundaries.”
Let’s see what decade it takes him to next.
Phosphorescent at Union Pool [484 Union Ave. at Meeker Avenue in Williamsburg, (718) 609-0484], May 11 at 9 pm. Tickets $12. For info, visit www.myspace.com/phosphorescent.