Monthly Archives: June 2017

Evan Dando 6/23/17, Philadelphia

Dates: June 23, 2017

Location: The Foundry, Philadelphia PA

Live at Philly’s The Foundry venue, the erstwhile Lemonheads mainman celebrated his back catalog, and in remarkably low-key fashion.


Evan Dando, taking the stage for an intimate show of about 150 in Philadelphia, looked road worn. Having been on a tour across Europe, Asia and Australia for most of the spring, the Philly stop was his second to last on the U.S. leg of the tour, coinciding with the re-release of his solo effort, Baby I’m Bored. And the travel seemed to be taking its toll.

With little fanfare, wearing faded black jeans and a ¾ sleeve T, he stepped onto the small stage to expectant applause and quickly launched into the endearingly goofy, but still great “Being Around,” off 1993’s Come On Feel the Lemonheads. Regardless of how he looked (weary) and despite little interaction with the audience, Dando’s voice was as perfect as it had been on the band’s Magnus Opus, It’s a Shame About Ray, 25 years ago.  For the next hour and 15 minutes – he ended the show precisely at 11 pm – he riffed through a stellar mix of songs from the two most popular Lemonheads’ albums and a healthy selection from Baby I’m Bored, all the while seemingly oblivious to the crowd in front of him.

There were no song introductions, barely any between-song banter, aside from some instructions to the sound guy, and oddly not even an acknowledgement when Marciana Jones, his bandmate in the side project The Sandwich Police, took the stage next to him halfway into the set to play electric guitar and provide backing vocals. (Based on unhappy critic and fan comments on Jones’ stage interactions with Dando in Australia recently, there may be a reason for this. – Blurt Research Dept.) Despite this bizarre obliviousness to the people he was playing to, the crowd was treated to a near-perfect set of Dando’s still impressive catalogue of music. For a little over an hour, Generation X’s favorite fuzz-pop troubadour pulled out just about everyone’s favorites. You could hear the crowd singing louder than Dando on songs like “Big Gay Heart” and their cover from the musical Hair, “Frank Mills.”

Dando played a one-and-a-half song encore, that started with a cover of Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful,” before it was abruptly aborted and he moved on to another song. Finished, he uttered a quick “thank you” and left the stage for the second and final time. He may not have been up for interacting with the crowd that came out to see him that night, but it’s hard to deny that he played the songs that people wanted to hear and in a voice that is still as commanding in 2017 as it was nearly three decades before.

Deets on all things Dando, including tour dates, at the Lemonheads Facebook page.



Album: Super Natural

Artist: Jim Jones & The Righteous Mind

Label: Hound Gawd!

Release Date: May 12, 2017

The Upshot: Former Thee Hypnotics/Black Moses/Jim Jones Revue frontbeast strips things down to the brutal, firebreathing bone.


When singer/guitarist Jim Jones brought his Revue to a close with 2012’s The Savage Heart, it seemed premature, especially as that album saw the former Thee Hypnotics/Black Moses frontbeast pushing his full-throttle rock & roll in different, often more sophisticated directions. Unsurprisingly, that record pointed the way to his future, which finally arrives in full-length form on Super Natural, the debut by his latest band the Righteous Mind. As Jones has evolved over the years, he’s added different strains of rock to his arsenal, from the high energy Detroit sounds of Thee Hypnotics and Moses to the Free nods at the end of the former’s career to the Little Richard/Jerry Lee Lewis mania of the Revue.

For the Righteous Mind, Jones is digging further into rock’s past, adding bluesier riffs and swampy grooves. “Something’s Gonna Get Its Hands On You” combines Bo Diddley and Tony Joe White licks in the verses before opening up into anthemic pop on the chorus. The pounding “Boil Yer Blood” takes the teethgnashing rockabilly of the Cramps and the Scientists, beats it within an inch of its life, then uses the Mind’s own brutal surgery to bring it back to its senses. “Aldecide” mashes up grinding riffs with roiling piano trills, while “Till It’s All Gone” brings another pop melody into the Mind’s roughhewn fold. The quintessential “Base is Loaded” keeps up a raging attack for over six minutes, never becoming numbing or tiresome.

“Shallow Grave” slows the pace for the closest thing to a ballad Jones has yet done, while the LP-closing “Everybody But Me” strips it down even further, as gentle electric guitar, pedal steel swells and jazzy piano set up a near ambient background over which Jones croons his love. It’s a startling but effective new path for Jones to explore, and he should do more of it. It’s a good sign that Jones is open to anything on Super Natural, and that he can easily enhance his usual firebreathing rock & roll passion without diluting it.
DOWNLOAD: “Base is Loaded,” “Aldecide,” “Everybody But Me”


VARIOUS ARTISTS – Songs, Bond Songs

Album: Songs, Bond Songs

Artist: Various Artists

Label: Curry Cuts

Release Date: May 12, 2017

The Upshot: An assortment of indie rockers (and poppers) tackle the James Bond songbook; at their best, the results are thrilling, occasionally besting the originals.


Andrew Curry‘s label has released an impressive clutch of tribute-type albums, including ones focusing on 80s pop, “lite rock” and so on. For the most part, the artists involved tend to fall at least loosely into the power pop subgenre. Curry Cuts’ latest project is Songs, Bond Songs. And as the title (and wonderfully clever cover art and packaging) telegraphs, this new 2CD set is a collection of themes from James Bond films.

For starters, what that means is that the songwriting is of a generally high standard, with a particular underlying style. But there’s a wide stylistic variance among those tunes, and in the hands of modern-day musical interpreters, there at least exists potential for the styles to move in even wider directions.

Most of the songs, then, will be familiar to many listeners (or at least ones of a certain age). 26 tunes from as many artists provides a lot of opportunity for variety, and on that score, Songs, Bond Songs certainly delivers. There’s much less of a power pop nature to the set overall than one might expect, especially considering the artists involved.

There are several real gems among the tracks on this set. Right out of the gate, Lannie Flowers turns in a splendid reading of the “James Bond Theme,” one that knowingly (and briefly) quotes from the Beatles’ Help! soundtrack (which, of course, quoted from the Bond films). He also slips in references to Goldfinger and Live and Let Die. Flowers sets up an incredibly high standard for the album, one that is inevitably met with varying degrees of success.

Jason Berk‘s “Goldfinger” is superb as well. Bringing the lead vocal down an octave from Shirley Bassey’s original, he delivers a dramatic reading that has just the right amount of retro feel. The arrangement is note-perfect as well.

Bratty pop-punk might not seem to be a good stylistic fit for “Thunderball,” but in the hands of Bowling for Soup’s Jaret Reddick, it does work; the result is a bit like the Ramones’ cover of “Spider Man” from the 1995 various artists Saturday Morning album.

Dramatic and sultry trip-hop is the chosen style of Jeff Litman and Andi Rae Healy for an inventive remake of “You Only Live Twice.” Like a select few tracks on this set, this tune could have easily worked in the respective film as well – or possibly better – than the original version.

A strong contender for the best track on the collection, the Corner Laughers‘ brilliant cover of “Diamonds are Forever” features Khoi Huynh’s wonderfully busy bass line and some irresistible lead vocals courtesy of lead ukulele player Karla Kane.

A stomping rocker with loads of sexy, brassy attitude is Lisa Mychols’ “The Man With the Golden Gun.” It’s easily among the most exciting arrangements on the set. The song’s bridge adopts a completely different feel, which makes the song’s return to its rocking mode even more effective. It’s a stunner.

It’s Gary Frenay, however, who earns the highest praise for his work on Songs, Bond Songs. Imagine if you will that in 1979, the Broccoli/Saltzman group had not chosen Shirley Bassey to sing the theme for “Moonraker.” No, instead they entered some kind of time portal that took them forward to the mid-1980s, where they found themselves with George Harrison, produced by his pal Jeff Lynne. The result of that imaginary scenario can be heard in Frenay’s reading. Harrison’s trademark slide guitar, the rock-steady drumming of Jim Keltner, and the smooth as honey massed vocal harmonies of Lynne are all explicitly evoked in Frenay’s reading. Of course it’s nearly all Frenay himself. Bonus points for a lovely and expressive lead vocal in which the former Flashcube sets aside the pastiche approach and focuses on his own individuality.

The first disc wraps up with a deceptively simple acoustic guitar and vocal reading of “For Your Eyes Only” courtesy of Freedy Johnston. He wrings out a level of emotion only hinted at in the original, and shows that less can indeed be more.

Zach Jones‘ “All Time High” doesn’t stray far from the original Octopussy theme featuring Rita Coolidge’s lead vocal. But while it’s far from groundbreaking, here the arrangement has an early ’70s pop feel that works exceedingly well. Jones’ lead vocal is stellar, too.

Minky Starshine‘s “Never Say Never Again” (the theme from the non-canonical Bond film of the same name) suffers from relatively weak source material, but he band improves the song vastly by excellent playing, arrangement and vocals, and subtle use of synthesizers.

Duran Duran‘s “A View to A Kill” was somewhat over-the-top; wisely, pop auteur Jay Gonzalez takes the song in a very different direction, reinventing the song with a feel that’s halfway between Brazilian pop and Parisian jazz. Gonzales’ approach brings the subtlety in the song’s melody out in ways the original never could.

Phil Ajjarapu‘s “You Know My Name” gives the Chris Cornell original (from the second Casino Royale) a dramatic feel that’s more melodic than might be expected. An echoey production vibe adds just the right amount of sinister mystery.

(Speaking of Casino Royale, here’s my only real disappointment with Songs, Bond Songs: nobody chose to cover the Herb Alpert-led instrumental theme from the – also non-canonical – late 1960s film of the same name. It could have been fun, but then topping the original wouldn’t have been easy).

Whether one on the whole likes the work of Adele or not, her theme from Skyfall is fairly weak stuff. Lindsay Murray (Gretchen’s Wheel), however, does an admirable job of improving upon the original, both vocally and instrumentally.

None of the remaining tracks on Songs, Bond Songs is a complete disaster; some – especially the ones that simply copy the originals rather than swinging for the fences – are wholly unnecessary, but they’re inoffensive and do no serious damage to the originals, the reputation of artists involved, or the project as a whole. A few tracks are problematic owing to the fact that the original songs are pretty dire. Yet some are still pretty good. And there’s always the skip button.

By my math, the above means that more than half of the tracks on Songs, Bond Songs rise to the level of remarkable; for a project of this type, that’s impressive indeed. Highly recommended.


Lannie Flowers – “James Bond Theme”

The Corner Laughers – “Diamonds are Forever”

Gary Frenay – “Moonraker”


DISTRACTIONS: Kindly Leave the Stage

Album: Kindly Leave the Stage

Artist: Distractions

Label: Occultation Recordings UK

Release Date: May 26, 2017

The Upshot: Beloved UK outfit serves up an understated but elegant swansong.


Four and a half years between albums may seem like a lot. But for The Distractions — Manchester’s finest, the great lost band of the New Wave era, etc. — it almost feels like they rushed it out! After all, Nobody’s Perfect, the band’s debut full-length, was released at the dawn of the ‘80s. But their sophomore set, The End of the Pier, didn’t arrive until more than three decades later, in 2012. Now, less than five years on, the quintet’s third and final album is here.  The appropriately titled Kindly Leave the Stage is the perfect swan song for The Distractions: concise (10 songs), understated and brimming with a sense of finality.

The Distractions’ story is the stuff of postpunk legend (as we outlined in a 2013 feature). Signed to Island Records around the same time as U2, they released few singles and EPs and, of course, Nobody’s Perfect.  But while critically adored, The Distractions never scored a hit and the original band splintered shortly thereafter. Their two key members remain lead singer Mike Finney, and guitarist and main songwriter Steve Perrin. Back in the day, Adrian Wright — also a guitarist and songwriter — was a key part of the band, even penning their best known song, “Time Goes By So Slow.” But Wright disappeared from the music business many years ago. These days, The Distractions are rounded out by second guitarist/songwriter Nick Halliwell (who also owns Occultation Recordings), bassist Arash Torabi and drummer Ian Henderson.

Perrin has said that the key word for Kindly Leave the Stage is “resignation” — and listening to these songs, it’s clear that he isn’t kidding. The sadness that has always been part of The Distractions’ lyrical content has never been more apparent than it is now. While it’s not always clear whether the goodbye that’s being said is to the band, a romantic partner or someone else, that goodbye itself is clear beyond a shadow of a doubt. Indeed, look at the titles of the five songs that comprise the disc’s second half: “Wake Up and Kiss Me Goodbye,” “Nowhere,” “The Connection’s Dropped Again,” “Tell Them I’m Not Here” and “The End of the Pier” (which, in Led Zeppelin-esque fashion, did not appear on the previous album despite its title!). That would be about the only thing The Distractions’ music has in common with Zeppelin though, apart from the fact that it was made in England. The songs here barely qualify as rock; though the pace does pick up on tracks like “Last to Leave” and the aforementioned, baroque-pop “Wake Up and Kiss Me Goodbye,” the vast majority of these songs are ballads. Simple, haunting melodies couch lyrics about sleepless nights and aborted conversations. Even more than on The End of the Pier, there’s a tangible sense of time running out here. On “Nowhere,” The Distractions even reference their own past: “I know we used to think that time went by so slow/But now there’s nothing left to do and there’s nowhere left to go.”

The album’s opener, “A Few Miles More,” is one of the band’s best songs ever — a gently propulsive track that sounds familiar the first time you hear it. The prettiest moment is probably “What the Night Does,” a lovely song on which Halliwell proves that Perrin isn’t the only adept songwriter in the band.  While I initially wished they would rock a bit more (the Nobody’s Perfect-era Distractions could show off their punk roots when they wanted to, as on songs like “Paracetamol Paralysis” and “Untitled”), the more you listen to this album, the more it makes sense that it doesn’t. With Finney’s distinct voice and the band’s ghostly harmonies, this still sounds like The Distractions — but they’ve evolved and they intended Kindly Leave the Stage to be an epitaph of sorts. And in the end, it succeeds. Its songs are of one piece and best listened to at night. Well done, guys; thanks for the memories.

DOWNLOAD: “A Few Miles More,” “What the Night Does,” “The End of the Pier”


Album: All In a Dream

Artist: Franky Valentyn Project

Label: SongTraks

Release Date: March 06, 2017 /

The Upshot: Operatic Prog-rock epic guaranteed to inspire your personal mental cinema.


The name Franky Valentyn might not ring all that many Stateside bells, but in his native Australia he’s a well-known veteran showman with a CV that stretches back several decades via the bands Mad Gorilla, The Beatnix, The Generation, Le Club Nerd, and his own Franky Valentyn Duo/Trio (take your pick) and The Franky Valentyn All-Stars. Along the way he’s notched numerous ACE (Australian Club Entertainment) Award nominations, and he also put together a children’s show called “Fun With Franky.” All this may or may not make him the proverbial Renaissance Man—real name: Frank Seckold—with his signature flair for flamboyance, he specializes in cabaret-style productions and covers performances (think Queen, Elvis, ABBA, Beatles, and Sinatra, plus Phantom of the Opera). But his press clips consistently paint him as a tireless entertainer with a huge fanbase.

All In a Dream, then, under the nom du rawk The Franky Valentyn Project, marks a new chapter in Valentyn’s book. Keep those above-namechecked artists close at hand, for this lengthy musical treatise is the proverbial full production, a Prog-inclined, Broadway-musical-in-the-making for lapsed Lloyd-Webber fans, with no shortage of Kate Bush pomp and Trans-Siberian Orchestra circumstance. The overture-styled opening cut, “Gothic Horror,” more than lives up to its title as a neoclassical, operatic scene-setter that ultimately gives way to a darkly surreal narrative. Later, the regal “Sara”—vocals by Nikki Bennett and guitar by Stephen Layton—simultaneously raises the blood pressure and chills to the bone, as if the aforementioned Bush and Queen’s Brian May had joined forces in a quest to seduce and imprison. And the tellingly-titled “Paul Isn’t Dead,” which features Valentyn himself handling lead vocals (in places he sounds like Ian Gillan during his Jesus Christ Superstar period), is a quirky Prog-rock take on the Macca urban legend.

The nearly 15-minute “The Jovian Moon Suite” closes the record out, its elaborate, and elegant, orchestral arrangement the stuff of pure cinema soundtracking. In fact, if you think of All In a Dream as just that, a soundtrack, rather than a “mere” rock album, the sonic possibilities turn endless. Coming to a mental theater near you, friends.

DOWNLOAD: “Gothic Horror,” “All In A Dream,” “Paul Isn’t Dead”


Album: Big Bad Luv

Artist: John Moreland

Label: 4AD

Release Date: May 05, 2017

The Upshot: Erstwhile punk switches, unsurprisingly, to Americana and displays stunning songcraft.


Oklahoma native John Moreland is just the latest in a longline of wildly talented songwriters chasing the ghost of fellow Okie Leon Russell. Like many of his equally talented peers (Scott H. Biram, Cory Branan, Chuck Ragan, etc.) Moreland started out playing in punk rock and hardcore bands, before eventually unplugging and helping redefine folk and Americana.

On Big Bad Luv, his fourth solo effort, Moreland continues his knack for writing impeccably perfect lyrics (“They got silver spoons for American gods/I wanna be stoned, thrown American rods”) on some of the best heartbreak songs since John Prine. Acoustic guitars are at the forefront of most of the tracks here, but it’s the piano and organ on songs like “Amen, So Be It” and “Ain’t We Gold” that really serve the album well. That sentiment aside, however, “No Glory in Regret,” which features just Moreland’s vocals over a lone guitar, just rips your heart apart.

I love punk rock, but let’s raise a glass to the punks out there that have taken their genius to Americana.

DOWNLOAD: “Sallisaw Blue,” “Love Is Not An Answer” and “Amen, So Be It”


REDD KROSS – Hot Issue LP (grey vinyl)

Album: Hot Issue LP

Artist: Redd Kross

Label: Bang!

Release Date: May 12, 2017

The Upshot: Power pop, glam, bubblegum and more on limited edition colored wax.


What would you say to a limited-to-600-copies, 150-gm./grey-vinyl-only LP from Redd Kross? Why, you’d say “Boy howdy!” without hesitating, natch. So what we have with Hot Issue is a collector’s item of a collector’s item—it was originally released a year ago on the band’s Fashion Records label, quickly sold out, and subsequently hit prices as high as a hundred bucks on eBay. Enter Spain’s Bang! Label to the reissue with the limited edition at hand.

What does it sound like? Who cares! You’re too busy scrambling to find a copy before Bang!’s iteration disappears! Don’t worry, we’ll wait for you to close the other tabs on your browser… Meanwhile, let’s just note that the 12 songs here are dated as having been “recorded in Hollywood between 1980-2007” but we are advised that most date from the mid/late ‘90s. Highlights range from the pure glam-slam that is “Insatiable Kind” and the Beatles-meet-Plimsouls power pop of “That Girl,” to the bubblegum romp of “Puss n Boots” and the stately, Roger Manning-produced, Queen-like ballad “Born to Love You.” Diverse, eh?

Musically speaking, it’s definitely a mixed bag, with the above-mentioned standouts countered somewhat by a number of throwaways. And compared to the band’s regular releases, it’s hardly essential except for completists, hence the only 2-star rating here. But if you happen to be a never-say-die fan….

DOWNLOAD: Don’t be silly. You can’t download grey vinyl!


Album: Folklore

Artist: Matthew Edwards & the Unfortunates

Label: Gare dui Nord

Release Date: June 02, 2017

The Upshot: Creating empyrean beauty from personal emotions is as difficult a task as indulging in sonic experimentation while maintaining the traits people loved in the first place. But Edwards and the Unfortunates do it.


The four previous platters by Matthew Edwards  – three with his former band The Music Lovers and one with his current group the Unfortunates – essayed a distinctive blend of British pop, French chanson and classic singer/songwriter craft that proved irresistibly beguiling to those lucky enough to come across them. For his fifth LP Folklore, Edwards keeps the faith with his proficient songsmithery, but gives his work a sonic makeover.

Rather than stick with his usual folky chamber pop – which would’ve worked well enough, as it always has – Edwards, the band and engineer John A. Rivers (who worked closely with Edwards’ pal Nikki Sudden throughout his career) open up the sound, taking the menacing “Ghost,” from the previous Unfortunates album The Fates, as a jumping-off point. The electric guitars are louder and grungier, the drums more insistent and polyrhythmic, the atmospheres murkier. Storm clouds haunt “Birmingham” and “I Can Move the Moon,” while an ill wind blows through “Song of Songs” and “When We Arrived at the Mountain.” “Lazy” simply rocks harder than anything Edwards has attempted before now. Guitarist Fred Frith and keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman – both veterans of The Fates – contribute heavily to the tone, imprinting their own distinctive personalities even as they serve Edwards’ vision. There’s mystery here, a sense that nothing is quite what it seems – even as, oddly enough, the emotions get more direct.

Inspired by his move from San Francisco back to his native Birmingham, England after twenty years, Edwards opens up as never before. The thrill and melancholy of moving from one home to another, interspersed with trips to the hospital to visit a sick relative, swirls through “Birmingham,” while the tenderness of love never wavers during “The Willow Girl.” Uncertainty flirts with confidence in “I Can Move the Moon,” while yearning for grace powers “Home.” The subject of “When We Arrive at the Mountain” remains secretive, but with lines like “I can’t believe I’m still bleeding” it can’t be good. “Young Man” takes a sardonic look at aging, acknowledging an increasing collection of flaws without even nodding toward self-pity. This isn’t solipsism, however – no matter how many times Edwards uses the word “I,” he really means “we.” Few artists are so adept at taking introspection and making it universal.

Creating empyrean beauty from personal emotions is as difficult a task as indulging in sonic experimentation while maintaining the traits people loved in the first place. But Edwards and the Unfortunates do it, spectacularly, making Folklore another piece of brilliance.

DOWNLOAD: “Birmingham,” “The Willow Girl,” “I Can Move the Moon”



Album: Tara Jane O’Neil

Artist: Tara Jane O’Neil

Label: Gnomonsong

Release Date: April 21, 2017

The Upshot: Songs that brush up against you softly, swirl up around you like a sweet smelling breeze and leave you wistful for things you can’t quite put into words. 


The songs on this self-titled album drift by like puffs of rainbow colored fog, soft, edgeless, hard to pin down and rather lovely. Just brushes on snare and plunks of acoustic bass set gorgeous “Sand” into motion, Tara Jane O’Neil’s voice drifting airily over slow moving melodies, a trumpet blows, just at the beginning, languidly and as if from a far off place. O’Neil has played in so many bands and in so many guises that it’s odd that this album, coming about a quarter century into her career as an artist, carries her name. Yet it does feel like a personal statement, lush and welcoming, yet fundamentally pared down. Her voice never lifts above a murmur, her songs waft by at the same medium pace, and yet they are wholly enveloping.

O’Neil recorded this self-titled album in two sessions – one in Chicago with Mark Greenberg at Jeff Tweedy’s Loft Studio, the other at home in California. James Elkington (who plays with Tweedy and Richard Thompson’s band, in duets with Nathan Salsburg and about 100 other projects) sits in on a couple of the Chicago tracks, alongside free jazz bassist Nick Macri (who once played with Elkington in Zincs) and Gerald Dowd, a Chicago drummer best known for his work with Robbie Fulks. In California, the cast of characters included bassist Devin Hoff, Wilder Zoby (who collaborates with Run the Jewels), string arranger Jim James and Walt McClements of the one-man Lonesome Leash. A four-person choir of soft pretty voices — Chris Cohen, Joan Shelley, Carolyn Pennypacker-Riggs and Gerald Dowd — fills out the sound in musing, dreamy ways.

And yet, despite an able and diverse group of collaborators who differ from track to track, there’s a strong continuity of mood of tone in this album; it is very much O’Neil’s voice and vision that drives the whole. For this reason, the album makes most sense when you play it end to end. It’s also hard to pick a favorite track, because they all blend together in a seamless, extremely pleasant whole that winds by while you’re staring out the window. Still, if pressed, I’d nominate “Cali” with its pure fluting vocal melody that reminds me a little of Linda Perhacs, or the late album smolder of “Purple,” with its plaintive blues guitar and shuffling late night beat. These are songs that brush up against you softly, swirl up around you like a sweet smelling breeze and leave you wistful for things you can’t quite put into words.

Download: “Cali” “Purple” “Sand”

NATHAN OLIVER – Head in the Sand EP

Album: Head in the Sand EP

Artist: Nathan Oliver

Label: Potluck Foundation

Release Date: June 09, 2017

The Upshot: A cause for celebration among fans of quirky, charming indie pop.


In the span of just 20-minutes, Chapel Hill’s Nathan Oliver (aka Nathan White) manages to remind fans that his lo-frills solo project is still very much alive after a nearly decade-long hiatus.

His re-emergence is cause for celebration among fans of quirky, charming indie pop, but also a little puzzlement that he only pulled together six songs with this long-time-coming offering. Bringing to mind everyone from early Ben Folds to Pavement’s more mellower stuff, Head in the Sand is a welcome addition his two previous efforts.

Some are the songs here are downright great, like the EP opener “Marbles” and “The Exquisite Wait.” But the addition of the droning “Little Belle” drags the record down a bit.

It may not be a flawless comeback, but it’s a solid start.

DOWNLOAD: “Marbles” and “The Exquisite Wait”