Mark Pickerel Cody's Dream

Who knew ex-Screaming Tree drummer (up to Uncle Anesthesia) had a record like this in him? Following up his first excursion to stage front (2006’s Snake in the Radio), Pickerel proves himself a good catch. Vocally rich — a beefy baritone that’s Nick Cave lite — Cody’s Dream is an intoxicating blend of rock, country and blues brewed into a backstreets thematic take on Americana that only Bloodshot could call its own. Thirteen powerful originals (and a smart Dylan cover) help paint a gloomy picture, augmented by dark guitars (Ian Moore guests), cello and pedal steel, delivering the aural equivalent of a David Lynch movie. It’s low-key, with Pickerel’s processed vocals occasionally crossing into Chris Isaac territory and, somewhat surprisingly, flashes of Dwight Twilley can be heard ("Cherokee Grove,” ”She Sleeps Through Sirens”). "Deep Inside Your Shade” is a commanding highlight that sweeps majestically and mysteriously over the entire project, while "Cody’s Last Ride,” a recap of the title track, is a clever way to close the album. This one sneaks up on you and bites. (Bloodshot)