Rare is the band that’s better nearly 20 years into their career. Is there a soul alive that will argue the superiority of Undercover versus say Sticky Fingers? And the bands that do manage late catalog magic usually don’t make it to the 20 year mark at all, ending in a blaze before the water treading begins. However, there are grand exceptions to these generalizations and one of them – resoundingly so – is Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons. The Portland-based trio’s – an enduring contender for “Best Rock Band In America That Most People Don’t Know About” – latest effort, Happy Book (released March 20 on Response Records), is both their first double record in their 17-year tenure together AND one of the best song cycles they’ve ever produced – mature and earthy, wise and real, and charged up and just plain ol’ rockin’. It’s the work of musicians who’ve lived a good deal and come back with the skin of their experiences crammed under their nails – births and deaths, highs and lows wrestled into melodies and verse that hit their targets with expert skill. The band’s recent visit to California found them them exploring these new songs at length, and despite a songbook that stretches to 300+ tunes, the focused approach revealed an inherent range in these new numbers that was impressive and absorbing. What was also obvious is how much Jerry and the Jackmormons – JR Ruppel (bass, backing vocals) and Steve Drizos (drums, backing vocals) – are enjoying fleshing out these fresh numbers into their fully formed live incarnations. Ace shooter Susan J. Weiand brings us a glimpse into one of these Northern California nights at one of DI’s all-time favorite road houses, Moe’s Alley. The band returns to the road again in early May (dates & details here), which gives y’all plenty of time to familiarize yourselves with Happy Book, a death grip lock for the Impound’s Best Albums of 2012.