Uncle Wiggly

Across the Room and into Your Lap

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Uncle Wiggly's debut album is like a masterful mélange of Jonathan Richman in his "Ice Cream Man" days (the lyrics and melodies tend toward a similar wide-eyed innocence, as well as a certain dairy-treat fixation); early Galaxie 500 (producer Kramer gives the trio's guitars and vocals -- all three swap out those duties -- a brittle, echo-like sound that Dean Wareham fans will recognize immediately); and the Tall Dwarfs (the same sort of quirky song structures and lo-fi sound). The album's mixture of catchy little pop songs ("Stick Up Your Smile") and chugging instrumentals that share the Velvet Underground and krautrock fixations of the Flying Nun bands ("Hope So, Hope Soon") and abstract psychedelia ("My My My, How Are You?," which, arguably, takes the Galaxie 500 fixation over the line into outright plagiarism) is unfailingly catchy and listenable, but Kramer's tin-can production fails the songs by making them sound more alike than they really are. Careful listening, however, reveals nuances that are largely hidden on a casual spin, so the songs are worth the effort.

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