Brilliant Music for those with good taste
"Bury me beneath your hair," sings Brendan Hines of The Brendan Hines. "I can't take the morning glare."
It's an exemplary lyric from his excellent second record, where many of his songs' characters seem to be waking up hung over, minds splitting between emerging details of the night before and existential crisis; others seem never to have left the bed at all, afraid to move lest they wake the stranger who represents their best and only chance of getting home.
If you've ever been there, you'll appreciate this catchy collection of contemplative, pithy tunes, mostly delivered in tones designed to not aggravate the big head of the morning after. But even if you haven't, you'll probably feel for the people in Hines' songs, many of whom reside in a post-Raymond Carver/Elliot Smith Lost Angeles, America that is not so much dystopian as it is rife with ambitious lives marred by a series of small mistakes: "Oh, what have you done?" he sings on Cahuenga. "Oh, this used to be fun."
Minimalist, often hilarious and always lyrically deft, Hines defies the expectations set by other actors who have made records. (He is also an award-winning thespian of stage and screen, currently best known for his role as the haplessly honest Eli Loker on Fox's Lie To Me, the procedural crime drama featuring Tim Roth that made the Facial Action Coding System a household word, at least for a while.)
Here, abetted by producers/players Al Sgro (Holly Conlan, Joe Purdy, Gary Jules, Milk Carton Kids) and David Poe (Regina Spektor, Jayhawks' Kraig Jarret Johnson, Duncan Sheik) and thoughtful performances by All Spots To Black Philip Krohnengold (Sara Bareilles, Golden Smog) Ben Peeler (Wallflowers, Jimmy Cliff) and the ethereal vocal accompaniment of Kristen Toedtman, Hines is the rare singer/songwriter who can avoid the world-weary and sentimentali while depicting both -- in these songs, funerals become wakes, benders, teachable moments; trysts, transcendent.