For most of its existence, the band P.G. Six—essentially singer and guitarist Pat Gubler, formerly of Tower Recordings, and whoever he's rounded up to play with him—has trafficked in spaced-out psych-folk, and Gubler got there well before anyone applied the unfortunate term "freak folk" to such music. Ever since his debut album in 2001, he's worked traces of rock into his songs, but on last year's Starry Mind (Drag City) he doubled down on it, forming a potent six-string front line with guitarist Bob Bannister. Bannister and drummer Robert Dennis (who also played together in Fire in the Kitchen and Tono-Bungay) both appear on the preceding P.G. Six album, 2007's Slightly Sorry, but without whipping up any of the electric punch of Starry Mind. The new record sounds like a less florid version of the folk-rock of Fairport Convention or Steeleye Span, with intricately interwoven tendrils of guitar and understated, elegant vocals that all become more potent with repeated listens. —Peter Margasak
By far the most exotic-sounding thing ever to come out of Decatur, Illinois, avant-folk band Spires That in the Sunset Rise have shrunk from a peak of four regular members to a stripped-down duo of Taralie Peterson and Kathleen Baird for their fifth full-length, the long-awaited Ancient Patience Wills It Again Part 1, which came out last month on Hairy Spider Legs. (Still more patience is called for: Part 2 is scheduled for the fall.) Baird and Peterson recorded it at home, painstakingly, taking more than a year and a half. They use lots of ethnic or otherwise foreign instruments, including thumb piano, spike fiddle, and bowed psaltery (and on "Well Tempered," those wooden croaking-toad scrapers that gift-shop customers can't seem to resist doing irritating things with), but they never come across like hipster wannabes toying with other cultures—they approach everything with such a pure spirit of invention that their music conjures its own culture. The new album's five long songs have some of the time-suspending properties of Tony Conrad's minimalist drones, some of the unsettled otherworldliness of Kendra Smith or Current 93, and some of the transhuman evocations of nature you find in Mongolian and Siberian music—plus something that belongs entirely to Spires That in the Sunset Rise and isn't available anywhere else (believe me, I've looked). —Monica Kendrick P.G. Six headlines; Moonrises, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, and Open Sex open.