The Love Letter Band
Fear not my brothers, fear not my sisters, for I have seen the future...
Happy Happy Birthday to Me i>
An eclectic non-band, The Love Letter Band features a lineup constant only in the presence of songwriter Chris Adolf. Their sound fluctuates accordingly. In "Everybody Sings Their Own Little Song," flutes, birds and a merry marching band all chime in around Adolf's unrefined, achingly sincere lyrics. Five instrumentals pepper the album amid a stew of twangy, spaghetti-Western intros, screamy optimism and accordion-fueled treats. Every Love Letter Band release ends up feeling very much like a missive of affection for music, variety and indie rock, in the purest sense. Nicole Garst
Fans of Nick Cave may be enticed to buy into this recent movie soundtrack, which was written and recorded with Warren Ellis. Be forewarned: This is one of those experimental, one-off albums where ambience trumps substance. While one could chalk up The Proposition as a perfect background album sonic wallpaper while your attention is elsewhere I suggest the newly released Cave DVD, The Road to God Knows Where / Live at the Paradiso, which features concert performances from 1989 and 1992. Granted, Cave is a mastermind of the alt singer-songwriter genre, but this soundtrack proposition should be denied. John Benson
Six Demon Bag
I caught a Man Man show in Chicago last fall, and I've been obsessed ever since. Their second album, Six Demon Bag, captures the insanity perfectly, as the boys hammer out jangly pirates' drinking shanties and complex melodic orchestrations, all in the tune of Tom Waits and Captain Beefheart. Topics range from true love to werewolves and giants, which are portrayed in the most addictively bizarre fashion: the sing-along storytelling of "Engrish Bwudd," the gorgeous heartbreak of "Van Helsing Boombox" and the roaming cinemascope of "Tunneling Through the Guy." A perfect album for marauders, Vikings, gypsies and even the general citizenry. Kara Luger