Recently, singer/songwriter Devon Williams appeared on the cover of the L.A. Record, yawning over his first cup of coffee, parodying the cover of Harry Nilsson's classic album Nilsson Schmilsson. Though the paper routinely photographs its subjects in the setting of an old cover shot, the choice of Nilsson is especially fitting for Williams' music and sensibility: The late popman's rumpled, hungover appearance contrasts with his highly arranged, often melodramatic fare. Likewise, Williams refuses to take himself seriously while crafting sweet pop gems that are like shots of pure oxygen in today's rather stale musical air. Although the American music underground is largely populated by noise mavens intent on aurally replicating a TV on the blink and folk wood-nymphs and their Manson-bearded boyfriends, Williams continues to slog it out. His painfully pretty songs wouldn't sound out of place alongside early Nilsson or on Paul McCartney's first album. "Elevator," from his new 7-inch, is earnest, unassuming, and benefits from a slightly haunted string arrangement.
Devon Williams opens for Colossal Yes and the Mantles.
Tue., Sept. 4, 9:30 p.m.