Saul Conrad’s “Poison Packets” is the debut release from Mountain of Leopards Records, a new independent label based in Jamaica Plain, and it sends a clear message: These guys are not interested in the straight and narrow.
Conrad, a singer-songwriter raised in Brookline who lives now in Jamaica Plain, writes and sings at the intersection of Jonathan Richman and Daniel Johnston. The songs on “Poison Packets’’ are ostensibly folk, but they exist on the far fringes of the genre.
Quirk has a strong place on this record, from the moony “Mexico” (which will remind a select few of Ed’s Redeeming Qualities, an off-kilter indie-folk band that emerged in Boston’s music scene in the late-1980s) to the good-natured twang of “Whiskey Eggs.” Frequently backed by Katie Schecter’s vocals, Conrad’s lyrics tend to be more suggestive than blatant. On the closing “Sycamore” he sings rather offhandedly, “I’m gonna hide in your legs / Till the pain goes away.” You know exactly what he means.
Ten songs in 20 minutes, and yet the album compels you to hear it again. It doesn’t necessarily come into sharper focus on repeated listens, but half the joy of “Poison Packets” is visiting Conrad’s strange hinterlands. (Out Nov. 13)
Mountain of Leopards will host a launch party featuring Saul Conrad and labelmates Kevin Haugh and Mike Greenstein at James’s Gate (5-11 McBride St., Jamaica Plain) on Nov. 13, 6:30-9:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. www.mountainofleopards.com