Best known as the band that once played with Justin Vernon in DeYarmond Edison, North Carolina trio Megafaun have soldiered on perfectly fine without the help of the Bon Iver frontman. The proof is in their third, self-titled LP, a confident and polished 15-track set that could prove to be the group’s breakthrough.
Brothers Brad and Phil Cook, along with drummer Joe Westerlund, grew up listening to everything from contemporary country radio to experimental musicians like Christian Fennesz. (Dudes’ beards don’t lie, either: They’re huge Deadheads.) And they successfully apply their musical heroes to Megafaun. The drop-dead gorgeous “Hope You Know” pairs easygoing piano with subtle static sounds, while “Serene Return” updates Southern blues for the 21st century, adding peals of distortion and clomping percussion atop haunting acoustic guitar. Not all of the studio experimentation works — “Isadora” is a curious fusion of free-jazz and New Orleans-style brass that grates more than it charms — but the stunning “Get Right” is one journey down the rabbit hole that’s definitely worth taking.