City Paper is not for tourists
D.C. guitarist Anthony Pirog plays many styles, depending on who he is collaborating with. In The Messthetics, he bangs out artsy post-punk, with Luke Stewart he plays avant-garde jazz, with The Spellcasters it’s Danny Gatton-rooted blues, swing, and rockabilly, and with his wife Janel Leppin, he plays a mix of ambient, improvisation, and folk. In 2014, Pirog, who studied at the Berklee College of Music and NYU, released Paleo Colorado Dream, his first collaborative instrumental work with acoustic bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Ches Smith. On that effort, Pirog mixed stretches of wistful Bill Frisell-influenced picking over gentle jazzy rhythms with lots of sudden, noisy bursts of art-rock. That year, Pirog sent more song demos to Formanek and Smith, and they worked on them through 2016, but put the project aside when he got busy with The Messthetics. This year, the trio finished the follow-up, titled Pocket Poem. The album is largely quieter than its predecessor, with Pirog sometimes using acoustic guitar and vintage 1980s guitar synthesizers like those used by John Abercrombie. Although album opener “Dog Daze” and some other cuts display loud prog-rock bravado, songs like “Honeymoon Room” and “Sitting Under Stars” are downright pretty. The former starts with delicate, fingerpicked playing, then shifts into a jazz-rock ambiance. The latter further shows Pirog’s disparate interests, as his folk-pop fingerwork on an acoustic guitar and a lap steel draw both from Maryland’s John Fahey and 1970s British folk. The album is available on Bandcamp. $10–$16.50.