Ryan Luchuk (l-oo-chuck)

This five-song debut from ivory-tickling musician Ryan Luchuck proves just how difficult it is for a young guy with a piano and a penchant for upbeat pop songs to shake the dogs of Ben Folds comparisons. Undoubtedly, Luchuck is already tired of hearing that name come up with regards to his own thing, but the parallel remains more apropos than that of, say, Joe Jackson or Burt Bacharach, and the solid accompaniment of drummer Colin Robinson doesn’t do much in the way of differentiating things. Though originally from Regina, Luchuck has established himself on the Toronto scene as the house guy at the expansive, frat-friendly Madison Pub piano bar and, to a lesser extent, as one third of pop rock combo Gooder. As his Madison gig often requires him to lead drunken sing-alongs, Luchuck knows all about keeping things catchy, and that’s evidenced by the hooky, stick-in-your-head qualities of the original material presented here. He’s a gifted and expressive vocalist, too, and shows further promise as a lyrical talent. (Independent)