Picastro with Blueberry McGregor

Friday, February 21; Radio Cherokee

You could make a convincing case that there's too much music being released these days, a relentless river of dreck that never stops flowing. The flip side of this truism is that there's a world of music out there that you'd love -- if you ever got to hear it.

Consider yourself fortunate if you've heard of the Pehr label or the group Picastro. Pehr, the label that released Picastro's Red Your Blues, specializes in all manner of off-kilter pop, sneaky gems from disparate bands unafraid to sprinkle instruments such as cello and violin atop the standard-issue guitars, basses and drums. Based in Toronto, Picastro consists of singer/ songwriter/guitarist Liz Hysen and a rotating cast of collaborators; the group's spare, trancey melodies and occasional bursts of release bring to mind the works of kindred spirits Lisa Germano and Julie Doiron. A sly and appealing record that sounds better with repeated listens, Red Your Blues is darkly tinged and vaguely foreboding -- the adjective "melancholy" is more or less obligatory in any description of Picastro (including, it seems, this one).

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