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There is such a thing as relaxing artfully, and Matthew Houck works extremely hard at it. The album he released last year under his stage name, Phosphorescent, Here’s to Taking It Easy, is devoted to the craft of repose. On it, Houck sings of foolish love and mermaid parades through the edge-dark lens of an afternoon drunk. The songs are repetitive and warm; Houck probably did not lose sleep writing them, and appreciating them does not require a great lift, either. The three-part harmonies and languorous guitar tones alone are enough to give you sun stroke. It is sometimes tongue-in-cheek: “I wish I was in heaven, sittin’ down,” Houck sings, edging closer to the brink of parody. But Here’s To Taking It Easy is sincere, even a little subversive. Like Jeffrey Lebowski writing a 69-cent check to his grocer while George H.W. Bush blusters on a nearby television, Houck’s celebration of leisure rejects the tendency of Americans (and especially Washingtonians) to conflate workaholism with civic virtue. To sit down is to stand up, and in that light, Houck’s reedy tenor becomes the voice of rebellion: “I ain’t came to stand here for none of this bullshit/Man, I came here to play.”
Phosphorescent performs with Family Band at 8 p.m. at Red Palace, 1212 H St. NE. $12 in advance, $14 day of show.