The CD is almost a concept album, an extended tableau of one man's stand for honor and love against opposing forces. My only complaint is that there's too much sameness of tone to merit a thirteen-song, 50-minute opus. Once you get seven or eight songs in, you've gotten the picture and the singing is starting to sound whiny. (But don't miss the Dylanesque "I Will Come For You" near the end.)
EP: Central Services, self-titled
If you're in the mood for some jaunty rock with one leg in the late 60s and one in the present, you could do a lot worse than Central Services. Moving from deft power-pop to wavy acoustic grooves, the Seattle group has a knack for harmonies and hooks. Kevin Emerson, who is also the drummer for Math and Physics Club, has a controlled, airy tenor that isn't terribly strong but works nicely with the band's delicate arrangements. His sensibility as a songwriter has a subtle dark side, too, as evidenced by "Perfect Drug."
Their press materials reference Fountains of Wayne and Ben Folds, but they're neither as hard as the former nor as syrupy as the latter, and their sound harks back to the era of the Byrds and the Turtles as much as it nods to contemporary pop fauna. Though there's nothing quite as catchy here as "Stacy's Mom" or "Eleanor," it's a promising start for Emerson and his talented crew.