Good Life Help Wanted Nights

We already know Tim Kasher can write epic orchestral indie rock with Cursive. We know he can spin depressing tales in his concept albums, which are nothing short of brilliant. And we know his side-project, the Good Life, proves him adept at hollowing out his larger anthems and finding beauty in the simplicity of just an acoustic and his haggard vocals. What we have on the Good Life’s fourth album, Help Wanted Nights, is more of the above. This time Kasher takes the name and lyrical ideas from a screenplay he wrote and tells the stories of a small city’s bar. Instead of focusing on a certain person or couple (like 2004’s Album of the Year), he outlines multiple characters in the dingy tavern and indulges in varying the narratives of their lives. The songs are catchy and dynamic but nothing new, save for ten-minute jangle-y jam "Just Rest Your Head.” It would have been easy to add some Southern twang to these plain cuts (like label-mate Conor Oberst), but they remain rock-oriented, leaving more room to focus on the lyrical subject matter. Anything stamped with Kasher’s name warrants a good listen but the lo-fi, comfortable attitude the Good Life embodies will ensure they maintain their status as nothing more than a side-project beside something much bigger. (Saddle Creek)