Since 1982, Calvin Johnson's K Records has been a pioneering small record label, with a tamper-free reputation and an incestuous, localized stable of talent that would make any independent imprint blush. As a member of Beat Happening, Go Team, the Halo Benders, Dub Narcotic Sound System, and a solo artist, the prolific Johnson casually bends his stiff baritone into doleful pop anachronisms. The artists on K's roster are like Johnson's happy peers at the best band camp ever: He's recorded, or recorded with, most of the acts on his label, from Beck and Built to Spill to Modest Mouse and the Microphones.
The Microphones' Phil Elverum, now touring as Mount Eerie, has absorbed those lessons: His best work is collaboration-heavy, but -- no matter who accompanies him -- he breathes atmospheres humid with ideas and emotions in a voice somewhere between tears and laughter. Elverum also collaborates with Beat Happening offshoot D+, and it's not above him or anyone else on this tour to sit in with Karl Blau, whose voice -- often childlike, but never innocent -- betrays his stature as one of the most promising young songwriters at Camp K.