Jeremy Messersmith Alcatraz Kid

It's hard not to be caught off-guard by Jeremy Messersmith’s Alcatraz Kid. Granted, the Minneapolis-based singer-songwriter is far from a household (or "blogosphere”) name. But what really provides cause for surprise is how the first three or four songs on the record will have gone by without you noticing what light, enjoyable listens they really were. Perhaps this has something to do with how unassuming, acoustically driven songs rich in melody that muse about matters of love and existential angst are not always immediately striking in their adventurousness or unique sound. Admittedly, this record isn’t really either, but it is deceptively difficult to write songs of this nature without coming off as overly syrupy or dull. This is a task Messersmith has demonstrated he can ably accomplish, as evidenced by standout tracks like "Novocain,” a worthy exercise in juxtaposing downcast lyrics with a peppy tune, and the harmony-dappled wistfulness of "Snow Day.” Yes, this is a singer-songwriter record, but Jeremy Messersmith would like to remind you that the term isn’t always a four-letter word. (Princess)