[DOWNCAST FOLK] "I hate it when it rains this long," declares singer-guitarist Matt Lounsbury at the start of Hello Damascus' second album. Maybe he's telling the truth, but as much as he might dislike the Pacific Northwest's prolonged bouts of dampness, he's clearly inspired by them, too. A cloud of damp melancholy hangs over Finale of Seem, the group's first record since 2006's Harvest Dolls, beginning with "February," in which Lounsbury continues on about the endless downpour of the Portland winter, claiming it "almost killed me," in a flat monotone suggesting he can barely raise enough enthusiasm to get off the couch. Its spare arrangement—little more than kick, snare and languid, elliptical acoustic guitar—is par for the rest of the band's overcast folk songs, given log-cabin warmth here by producer Mike Coykendall. The mood never picks up, but the music does. "Iterative at Best" puts minor-key piano and frowning saxophone over steady, insistent drums, while "Metal for Your Friends" is practically chipper by comparison, making a pun of its title with choppy currents of distorted guitar and ending with a big group sing-along. Much of Finale languishes in a bruised kind of beauty, but closer "White Knuckles" is downright apocalyptic—a long midnight drive through a storm, straight into a hellfire of guitar static.
SEE IT: Hello Damascus plays the Kenton Club, 2025 N Kilpatrick St., with Dolorean on Thursday, Dec. 6. 9 pm. Free. 21+.