I don't know what it is about 2014, but this year I only feel compelled to absorb music in the briefest of increments - ten, fifteen mins tops usually. Piercing this threshold of self-diagnosed Adult ADHD comes Cheap Stuff, the debut from an upstart Albany, NY-area trio, who I found myself partaking in virtually in it's entirety more than once this week. Great Mutations have somehow manged to capture and hold my attention, bereft of resorting to anything flashy, superficial or the least bit ostentatious on their part. Cheap Stuff is akin to an Americana-laced Pavement sans the esoteric curveballs, or perhaps a better comparison can be drawn to indie aggregations like Grandaddy, and less obviously Rogue Wave. G/M are lackadaisical without getting too slack, not to mention sweet and strummy, graciously sparing us any genteel malaise that's so ubiquitous these days. Just three capable fellows with real songs you might say. And you can hear those songs for yourself via Bandcamp, where Cheap Stuff can be had at a fittingly affordable price.
Entirely unrelated, but just as worthy comes a brand new live album from Arlington, TX power pop troubadour Lannie Flowers. For the past couple years I've been serving up reviews and samples of his most recent solo albums (and his unheralded '80s group, The Pengwins) on Wilfully Obscure, but for those of you who've yet delve in, Live in NYC is a sublime jumping off point. The setting for the concert was Brooklyn's Trash Bar, where Lannie and his four compatriots served up a "Lannie's dozen" of fourteen numbers to a small but attentive audience. Included are ace renditions from his New Songs Old Stories and Circles albums, as well as a special cover of Big Star's incendiary classic, "Back of a Car." Live in NYC affirms his strengths with should-have-been chart toppers, "Turn Up Your Radio" and "Come on Girl," among nearly a dozen more cuts. You can get a taste of Lannie's bite out of the Big Apple from CD Baby or iTunes at your leisure.