Million Billion The Filthy Schoolgirl EP

It’s just so... cute. The one-man project of Madison, WI’s Ryan Smith, this EP is like the quietest moments of Sparklehorse or the Delgados, but without the girl singing. A short (27 minutes) and drum-less collection of some mighty fine pop songs, this is crammed full of all your chamber-pop staples: violins, xylophones, piano, and did I mention no drums? "Sandcastles” grates a bit, and the instrumental tracks are a touch pointless, but the rest of the EP is chock-a-block with quality tunes. From "Home Wisconsin,” the best song the Delgados never wrote, to the la-la-las of "Filthy Schoolgirls” this is delicate, but high-quality stuff. In an alternate and fairer universe, "Time to Be Tired” would get picked up by some Hollywood star vehicle and end up with Mr. Smith playing on the Academy Awards. Probably best not to hold out for that, but still, a good record. (Filthy Schoolgirls)