Singer, songwriter and guitarist Mark Eitzel, leader of on-again-off-again Bay Area heroes American Music Club, emerges with another album of artfully sarcastic, heartfelt observations on the moral, mental and emotional decay in American society. The ambiance of Candy Ass alternates between eerie starkness and dreamy lushness, as Eitzel's dusty, unaffected voice spins tales of mortality ("Song of the Mole"), the high price of love ("Sleeping Beauty") and generalized paranoia and angst ("My Pet Rat St. Michael"). The songs are bordered by surreal instrumentals "Cotton Candy Tenth Power," for one, combines the user-friendly minimalism of Brian Eno with the fractured, surreal dissonance of Tom Waits. Most tellingly, the presumably sarcastic "A Loving Tribute to My City" is a queasy mélange of spacey Krautrock, mechanized dance beats, and samples of a female speaking in a baffled-sounding monotone. Eitzel aims to disorient, unsettle and provoke, and Candy Ass is an inspired choice for a fascinating, uneasy listening experience.