Joe Eisenbraun

Selected Short Works
(Nice Noise Records)

Singer-songwriter Joe Eisenbraun re-mains a mostly unknown figure around town who plays a show only every month or two — even though the solid, varied LP Selected Short Works marks his fifteenth release since 2001. The dude clearly has Bob Pollard-esque depths to plumb, but his talent justifies this prodigious output. Eisenbraun writes sharp, catchy songs that display wit and heart in equal measure, as they vacillate between nervy power-pop and pensive folk-rock. "To See You Again" pulses with new-wave energy and sounds like a lost Knack song, and "History" crunches along with a few nods to Cheap Trick. "Soft Rock Radio" is a highlight among the stripped-down numbers, marked by a circular banjo pattern and light drums, as Eisenbraun ruminates on the long-gone simplicity of grade-school love.

Like Billy Bragg's similarly minded Talking with the Taxman About Poetry, marriage is a focus of many of these tunes. Opener "Diamonds, Diapers & Property" considers the weight of family life and fiscal responsibility amid twangy guitar and wheezy organ chords. Things get darker (and funnier) with "The Day I Married Her," which finds a beleaguered husband looking back on 30 years of domestic blisters. The chorus, which states "If I killed her the day I married her, I'd be out of jail by now," is sure to be a favorite with fans of murder ballads and wry irony alike. A little too snarky for alt-country and a little too wistful for indie-rock, Eisenbraun finds a comfortable middle ground in between genres. — Christian Schaeffer

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