Manishevitz Rollover

For his second album, Manishevitz's Adam Busch has turned his literate muse west, heading through the desert landscapes that inhabited his debut, Grammar Bell and the All Fall Down, and has made it to California. Although still creating haunting, intelligent tales of desolation and loss, instead of channelling Ry Cooder, this time it's with more of a pop sensibility, at least musically, like taking Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake and Silver Jews' David Berman on vacation to Southern California - you don't lose the sardonic wit and droll commentary, but the music has a little more lift. Produced by Boxhead Ensemble's Michael Krassner, who plays keys, guitars and sings, with arrangements by Fred Lonberg-Holm (Peter Brontzman, John Zorn), band members include Via Nuon (Drunk, Bevel), Ryan Hembrey (Edith Frost, Pinetop Seven) and more Chicago locals. The result is beautifully layered, sombre at times, but not sobering, like a quiet Gothic tale told late, by candlelight. (Jagjaguwar)