Richard Buckner never stood a chance at becoming a star, but once he seemed destined for more than cultish obscurity. His first three albums, Bloomed, Devotion and Doubt and Since, are as potent as any word-drunk, song-seer work of the '90s. They're vision cycles that could force you to reconsider the rock axiom that singer-songwriters are boring. Harrowing, brooding and elusive, yes, but in Buckner's case never boring. Since then it's been mostly bad trip after bad trip, from the aptly titled Impasse and stretches of self-imposed exile to flashes of hope in rehearsals. His brackish growl and love of looping the hard, piston-like strum of his guitar make considerable demands on an audience. His astonishing, wholly original songs are more than enough reward.