When my littlest brother, Tim, was nine, I used to pummel him with left jabs to his nose, which would often bleed like a crimson spigot. The explanation for this pugilism was that he teased me unmercifully about my scrub hairdo. Tim had a way with words then, and as his solo debut, Funeral Music
, attests, he still does -- despite repeated attempts to drown that gift in butterscotch schnapps and Blow Out
reruns. (Some would call this slacker decadence; I call it creative fuel.) Tim -- along with his erstwhile band, The Actual Tigers -- weathered a decade of getting prison-raped by Capitol Records before independently releasing this introspective pearl, which features at least three brilliant tracks. "On Film I Play Myself" is a smartly apportioned bit of Pixies mimicry. "Telephone" is a song-long slap at a dim ex-girlfriend who tattled on me once. The spare ballad "Lady Luck" is my favorite song, and Tim knows it: He dedicated it to me on a live radio broadcast in Seattle, which compelled me to choke back tears.