Drunk Tableside Manners

When I first stumbled across Drunk's To Corner Wounds, their album of two years ago, they struck me as an unlikely, but arresting encounter between Sparklehorse and the Band, with just enough of a mind addled by booze to the point of being unable to sort history from the present to make their name seem oddly apropos. Singer-songwriter Rich Alverson sounds like he's still looking for his morning coffee, but even if it is a little fuzzy-headed, Tableside Manners is a gentle hangover, as deliberate as its predecessors, but inching toward a jazzier kind of sophisticated adult pop. Bringing in the vibes and retaining just the slightest hints of country and folk, this reinvention of Drunk has shades of the Friends of Dean Martinez and accordingly, it's quite lush and beautiful in its own spare, noir-ish way. Were it not for Alverson's nasally, hangdog vocals (imagine a condemned prisoner at peace with his fate as he's led to the gallows) the album would put me in mind of the Go-Betweens a time or two. It's just a shame that this forlornly lovely album is probably doomed to obscurity, being too mellow for the alt-rock play lists and too eccentric by half to have a chance with more adult formats. Although I get the feeling that Tableside Manners wasn't made with airplay in mind. (Jagjaguwar)