Mike Trike Apartment 18

It’s been several years since the last great Winnipeg indie rock hope Transistor Sound & Lighting Co. imploded shortly after the release of their excellent debut, scattering into a series of unremarkable side-projects. But, at last, TS&LC’s Jay Churko has found a suitable home with ex-Lovedaddy Michael Marshall’s new project, the five-piece patchwork (also featuring members of Nathan and Churko’s last project, Chords of Canada) Mike Trike. Churko’s instrumental contributions are hard to miss, especially on album highlights "Pasadena” and "Summer Smile,” but this is still primarily Marshall’s vehicle, and his lo-fi, acoustic Elliott Smith-meets-Death Cab for Cutie songwriting prowess is what ultimately makes Apartment 18 work. He does occasionally stumble, like on the Lovedaddys-performed "Daffodil Song” and underdeveloped "Lisa Sheepwash,” but with irresistible and succinct indie pop like the Dinosaur Jr.-influenced "Ain’t No Doctor” and shorter, parasitic acoustic ballads like "The Airplane Song” and "Be My Brooke,” perhaps the closest the record comes to sounding eerily like XO-era Elliott Smith, the record’s few imperfections are easy to overlook. It’s taken almost six years, but the next great indie hope from Winnipeg has finally arrived. (Practically)