Anders Parker The Wounded Astronaut

As leader of the underappreciated Varnaline, Parker added a definite spacey quality to the accepted Americana stew, and these six tracks take that approach to a logical new level. The Wounded Astronaut is actually comprised of leftovers from last year’s solo album Tell It to the Dust, which were ditched due to their heavier qualities. It’s a shame he couldn’t have thrown a few more tracks onto this EP because, while these songs hold together well on their own, Parker’s knack of creating atmospheres deserves the full-blown treatment. The title track is classic Varnaline, while later, "Everyone Will Shine” is an intriguing detour to India, and "Fast and True” is crunchy Westerberg-style power pop. Still, with guests ranging from Jay Farrar, Richard Buckner, and the Dambuilders’ Joan Wasser, The Wounded Astronaut does much to solidify Parker’s reputation as a songwriter to be reckoned with, and sets the bar high for his next full-length. (Baryon)