American Aquarium, with Kody West; Tuesday, Jan. 9, 7 p.m., blacksheeprocks.com.
ike Bruce Springsteen and David Baerwald before him, American Aquarium bandleader BJ Barham wears his world-weary heart on his sleeve, but still manages to avoid undue solipsism. Well, maybe not entirely. On the title track of his group’s 2006 debut Antique Heart
, Barham compared himself to “a used-record store full of memories that no one wants to hear anymore.” But that turned out to be wrong. Today, with a 10th album on the way, the North Carolina alt-country band’s following has reached beyond cult status, despite some periods of significant floundering. During a Pledgemusic video pitch to support the recording of the band’s next album, the singer-songwriter summarizes a lot of life experiences in a single sentence: “I got married, I got sober, I bought a house, I completed the Great 48 Tour
with my wife and dog, I had an entire band quit on me, I had an entire new
band join me on the road, and we’ve had a presidential election that split our country in half.” In other words, Barham’s got a lot of experiences to draw upon, both good and bad. As he sang on his band’s last album: “There are different roads to happiness / I took a different path, I guess / Came out on the other side just fine / The losing side of twenty five.”