Like Smashing Pumpkins leader Billy Corgan and his short-lived Zwan, Shiner's Allen Epley bid his influential '90s outfit farewell and assembled a new band (The Life and Times
) whose lineup generated only a single 2003 release. The erstwhile pumpkin-smasher now records solo, but Epley simply recruited a replacement rhythm section (ex-Stella Link drummer Chris Metcalf and Ring, Cicada bassist Eric Abert) and kept the Life and Times' moniker intact. Last year's debut full-length, Suburban Hymns
, combines atmospheric guitar spirals, exclamatory percussion, versatile vocals and haunting wordless hooks (which have served the band well during its tour with instrumental titans Pelican). Epley's falsetto floats above the delicately dissonant riffs, but his voice also sinks to gloomy lows when the trio's melodic crescendos crash. During "Coat of Arms," the phrase "outer space" plummets in pitch like an earthbound satellite.