Bikeride Thirty-Seven Secrets I Only Told America

Jonathan Richman had to be shot by the Farrelly Brothers to ingratiate himself into mainstream America’s consciousness, but his presence has cast itself across 20 years of indie rock as thoroughly as a dragnet. Never mind that, more often than not, the specimens trawled up in his name would justify his celluloid assassination — God bless him for giving voice to the benevolent shyboys who, in the absence of female companionship, could simply fall in love with the modern world. Bikeride mastermind, Tony Carbone, delivers his own State of the Suburban Union Address in Thirty-Seven Secrets, a frequently wonderful product of low-budget ingenuity and a big, soft heart. Best of all is “Erik & Angie,” Carbone’s own “Roadrunner.” Similar to Richman driving at the periphery of teenage life and swooning that “the highway is your girlfriend,” Carbone marvels at the intoxicating blur of his native California’s endless summer, while the song’s titular “American lovers” live a high life he can only write about. Clever wordplay and a deft hand at bossa nova stylings make giddy fun of “That’s Math!,” while “Parasol” and “Jennifer” replicate the heyday of bubble gum pop so completely they could have been covered by the Banana Splits. Only when he indulges in the aggressively twee (“Peeling An Orange”) and the unnecessarily flip (the 23 sputtering “hidden tracks” that follow the album’s final listed song) does Carbone risk falling prey to that which has befallen so many potentially great indie mavens: the inability to self-edit. If he can forget having ever heard a Sebadoh album, his Bikeride could take America into its love-starved arms and feel it squeezing back. (Hidden Agenda)