Kevin Quain Tequila Vampire Matinee

On his second album, Kevin Quain - a weekly fixture at Toronto's bohemian Cameron House - takes some baby steps away from an all-too-obvious influence. With Quain's hoarse barroom voice, accordion fixation and tales from the gutter, one doesn't have to Waits too long to hear said influence. Quain gets away with it because his saloon songwriting is simply so good - 18 songs and nary a dud - and his arrangements, complete with some mariachi horns this time out, lend themselves more to Parisian cafés than Manhattan watering holes or Californian junkyards. His vocal delivery is entirely convincing and heart warming, and lyrical themes of circus clowns, vampires and a strange fixation on the word "palooka" add up to a rich and satisfying sophomore effort. (Fading Ways)