I've only ever bought a record based on its album art once. It was Record Store Day in 2010, and I was scooping up exclusive releases over at Jigsaw Records (RIP, their physical storefront in Ballard) when, while looking through its general stacks, I came across Jason Anderson's The Hopeful and the Unafraid. I'd never heard of Anderson before, but I was taken in by the album cover, a photo collage of state line signs, reminding me in a roundabout way of the David Hockney Pearblossom Highway print my parents have up back home. (The K Records badge on the sleeve also stimulated my curiosity.)

The cover proved to be a good indicator of the music inside, a sprawling album with songs like "El Paso," "Ohio," and "July 4, 2004" heavily steeped in rootsy heartland Americana. But Anderson's lyrics are more than just your garden-variety amber waves of grain. Every song is a celebration, capturing poetic moments of summer exuberance without ever reverting to chest-thumping jingoism. On his newest release, The Mark EP, Anderson sounds more like Bruce Springsteen than ever, perfecting his screeching and blustery Boss voice while describing a bicycle trip across the Northeast, all in order to answer that pesky American question "Do you ever really wonder what you live for?" Don't let your stars-and-stripes Fourth of July hangover stop you from seeing Anderson live, as he's long been known to put on exhilarating performances.

Bad Weather California have recorded a truly schizophrenic Cali record on their sophomore album, Sunkissed, which came out earlier this year. Songs alternate between reverb-heavy surf-folk numbers (think Beachwood Sparks) and shorter punk thrashers that recall modern takes on SST Records' '80s heyday. Probably the most impressive thing about Bad Weather California is that they are from Denver. With local openers iji and Thousands. Vera Project, 7:30 pm, $9/$8 with club card.