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BILL BACHMANN—FOLK-N-ROLLER(Flight of the BumBillB Records)

Sometimes you know exactly what you’re going to get just by looking at an album’s cover. And one glance at Folk-N-Roller, with its friendly picture of singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Bill Bachmann tucked under the blanket beside an acoustic guitar with an electric guitar in his hands, or at song titles like “Kill That Other Beer” or “The New Hip Song” and you know you’re in for some irreverent fun.

Barely stopping to catch his breath from track to track, Bachmann serves up a collection of wry tunes that may put the listener at risk of injury from persistent toe-tapping or air guitar plucking.

It’s not all breakneck comedic fun, of course. “Your Old Man” is a poignant reverie about a father-son relationship that isn’t far off from Neil Young’s classic “Old Man,” though perhaps a bit more sentimental. “Too Late” also brings the tempo down, with lyrics about lost love and a solemn musical arrangement to match.

But the vast majority of Folk-N-Roller is plucky fun, like the ode to sweets—or rather avoiding sweets— “Candy Man,” or the artist’s own infectious theme song, “B-A-C-H-M-A-N-N,” with its fiddle-driven clever puns and inside jokes.

Folk-N-Roller is Hudson Valley roots music at its best, the perfect soundtrack to boat rides along the Hudson, drives through the Catskills or good times with friends on the front porch. —Crispin Kott

LAURENCE JUBER—LJ PLAYS THE BEATLES VOL. 2(Acoustic Music Resource Records)

Laurence Juber was a member of Wings, though not until 1979 and only briefly as Paul McCartney split up the band two years later. It’s likely Juber played a bunch of Beatles songs with McCartney during his time with Wings, though it’s still a little strange that he’s just released a second volume of amiable acoustic versions of their music.

Juber is a skilled musician, and his nuanced approach to songs like “You Can’t Do That” and “Dear Prudence” are more enjoyable than not. But the whole thing sort of smacks of cheapness, and it’s a shame. If you broke up with a significant other, and they kept showing up and singing your favorite songs, would you give them a pass just because they did it proficiently, or would you close the blinds and pretend you weren’t home?

Putting that aside, LJ Plays the Beatles Vol. 2 is still an interesting listen for two reasons: the songs of the Beatles are still the songs of the Beatles, and they’d sound great if played by an orchestra wielding nothing more than shotguns and kazoos. The other reason the album works, at least a bit, is that Juber is so damn good on the guitar. As with most Beatles covers, you’re not going to prefer anything here to the originals. But then again, solo acoustic versions of “Please Please Me” or “I Am the Walrus” might be just what you need sometimes. And if that’s the case, you could do worse than seeking this album out. —Crispin Kott


Let’s say for the sake of argument that Breakfast in Fur laid a total stinker with their self-titled EP, filled it with unlovable and unlistenable crud and walked off scot-free. They’d still be the only band in the short history of the chillwave movement to release music that didn’t use a snapshot found in the bottom of a shoebox at a yard sale as its cover art. So that’s good news.

And the other good news, the best news actually, is that Breakfast in Fur is really quite good. Full of gauzy vocals, found sounds and samples, and kitchen sink melodies, the EP is a hopeful sign of very good things to come.

“Shine” sees the New Paltz collective in interplanetary Phil Spector mode, while they spill deeply into the shoegaze realm of My Bloody Valentine with the shimmering “A Quiet Place.”

If there’s anything negative to be said about Breakfast in Fur, it’s that it’s just much too short. Hopefully the band has a full album in them and will get around to it sooner than later.

Breakfast in Fur is available to download for free on Bandcamp, and can also be purchased on CD. —Crispin Kott

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