FALLING IN LOVE is better than most anything. It sounds (and is) obvious but it's true—the hulking swell of new emotions, the weird little tics and mannerisms that are cute as puppy piss no matter what your cynical friends say. But just as good is what comes afterward, when the jittery excitement subsides, the unexplored territory is explored, and you begin to understand your new sweetheart.

That's where I'm at with Portland's Jigsaw Gentlemen. Couple months ago, I heard their unmastered debut album and went bonkers—like, thrusting a big #1 foam finger in the air BONKERS. But, as we lean into December's cold, blustery bulk, I'm at the point where me and the Gentlemen's songs... we're just in there.

First there's John Henry Crippen's lyrics, which have that rare way with the language that makes people refer to the lyrics or lines as "writing." This is the sort of grand, eerie magic that the cat from Neutral Milk Hotel had, and that Neil Young conjured when he was "in a mood"—as my grandma used to say.

Then there's Jake Bromberg's bass freakouts, which look like free jazz when you see 'em live, but are always in control, driving and tracing along with Crippen's acoustic guitar, while Bromberg blurts out backups and sings enough la da da dahs to make it savagely singalongable.

Secret weapon here is J.R. Bischoff's drumming—a mix of tight percussion genius and coffee-zonked hyper-creativity. It's the sort of band you could watch simply for the drumming, just to see the tricks Bischoff pulls in the midst of keeping it together.

The Gentlemen—in their latest three-man incarnation—are a newish band, and you probably haven't heard them yet. But you will. Prepare yourself for the new sound of the Pacific Northwest. Grunge is cold and dead in the boneyard. Indierock is rotting. But a red fern grows where they're buried, and its name is Jigsaw Gentlemen.