Killed John Train

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About a third of the way through Roy's second full-length album, the glorious lo-fi pop charmer "In My Defense" comes flying out like a lost Guided by Voices nugget circa Alien Lanes. With its urgent drumming and edge-of-yearning vocals, it's the first song on Killed John Train to shake out of a midtempo Americana torpor that begins with the lengthy, forlorn harmonica solo at the front of the album-opening "Reno, I'm Coming Home." (The second track, the Pavement-like "So Alive," is peppy enough, but disqualified on account of the just-way-too-lo-fi sound, which makes it sound like it's coming out of a transistor radio in the next room.) The hits continue with the early Beck sound-alike "Jesus Drives a Trans Am," but following that double play, the album's batting average declines again with a long stretch of increasingly dull tunes featuring mournful Mark Linkous-style vocal whines and colorless country-rock tunes occasionally tweaked with some My Morning Jacket distortion. Killed John Train seems more focused than Roy's awkward, scattershot debut, but the band still has a way to go before it's thought of as more than the poor man's Sparklehorse.

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