Stephen Franke & Noises from the Toolshed Songs For a Platinum Blonde Diner Waitress

Victoria, BC’s Stephen Franke travelled around the world with his guitar slung over his shoulder to absorb the many sounds that lie between the world’s opposing hemispheres. While he was away Franke became inspired by Cuban rhythms, jazzy grooves and rural folk — all of which he stirs into Diner Waitress’s fusionist stew to recall the light-heartedly intricate interplaying of bands fronted by Django Reinhardt and Charlie Hunter. On "Floating in Oxygen” and "Big Bad Bear,” however, Franke steps up to the mic and takes the guise of singer-songwriter. These pieces are a whole different greasy spoon altogether — Franke’s voice and phrasing recall a relaxed John Cale and the arrangements noodle about like Phish-y Grateful Dead. The whole package is nice enough to make the album’s namesake proud, but not impressive enough to get her into bed. (Pacific)