We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


How to explain the resurgent interest in shiny, happy anthems? Are we just as Smile-damaged as Brian Wilson is life-damaged? Were Coke ads simply way better back in the New Seekers’ ’70s? Are the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens’ Michigan Militia making their Kool-Aid from the same Jungian pool? Or are we Bush-era Americans only now rediscovering the old question-authority message because it’s weirdly dressed in choir robes? Chuck Prophet’s “Age of Miracles,” on the album of the same name, doesn’t feature a swaying, big-chorus treatment, but the feeling is there in the opening swoop of harp, the corny pedal-steel motifs, and the lyrics—which in this case downright demand that you join in: “There’s plenty work for everyone/Where two and two add up to one/Let’s sing this song in unison.” But Prophet, as always, sings like the last man on Earth to ever get suckered: earnest, yes, but also earthy and worn-in. (That said, he’s not immune to rock-star posturing; the last time I saw him at Iota, he deep-throated his microphone.) “Age of Miracles” is uncharacteristic of Prophet’s usual grimy-diamond Americana, but it’s such a beautifully calibrated piece of satire that it’s a shame he goes for a final punch line: “I know it’s true, it’s on TV.” Recognize this Prophet in his own country when he and his band play with Scratch Track Saturday, Jan. 29, at 9:30 p.m. at Iota Club & Cafe, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $12. (703) 522-8340. (Pamela Murray Winters)