Christopher Eckart Elegy for Diamond Lake

Christopher Eckart, the lead singer for Hamilton, ON pop outfit Escape Goats, has put out a solo record full of smart-assed odes to snack foods, fish and idleness. Compositionally, Eckart’s songs are awkward and unnerving, which is what makes so many of them so extraordinarily interesting. Overlong lyrics are forced into small spaces and melodies are bent and twisted to suit his will. The recording gives an impression of spontaneity, as though each track is an impromptu performance of a song written five minutes ago. Absurd lyrics emerge in either a dirty growl or a sardonic warble so caustic in tone it would probably do a pretty good job of cleaning your oven. At other times, Eckart takes on a distinctly old-style country persona, crooning ballads about hobos and trains. All of this madness is backed variously by plunking guitar, old-time-y keyboards, harmonica and accordion. An altogether curious and enjoyable disc. (Nonesuch/Warner)