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Breezy Melodies

Sam Prekop
(Thrill Jockey)

Although the Chicago band scene is very incestuous, it's also one that has produced some of the most consistently great music on the market in the past half decade or more. With Tortoise, the Sea And Cake, Gastr Del Sol, Isotope 217, and others, it's a veritable saturation of indie-rock, with nearly everyone in each of the above groups working in side projects and solo projects as well.

Not surprisingly enough, this solo work is often just as good as some of the music that the members put out in their collaborative unit bands, and that goes for Sam Prekop. As a member of the Sea and Cake, he's helped to put out some of the neatest pop music out there. One thing about the group, though, is that on their past couple releases, they've started sounding a little bit more and more like drummer John McEntire's other outfit Tortoise. While the electronic foolery is nice on some tracks, it get a little overwhelming on others, which is why it's great that Sam Prekop has dropped this excellent little solo album.

As it could be expected, some big names still manage to chime in on this release, including Archer Prewitt (also of Sea and Cake) and Jim O'Rourke. The focus here, though, is on Prekops nicely constructed, pop songs with a tinge of a jazz undercurrent to pull them along. If you're thinking that it probably just sounds like the Sea And Cake, you're kind of right, except for it's a bit more whimsical as well. On the songs with vocals, Prekop turns in his breathy falsetto work, and it makes for a soft album that sounds good any time.

Whether its the lazy, piano-touched instrumental of "A Cloud to the Back," the longer, almost Tortoise-esque "Faces And People," or the almost-jamming "Showrooms," it's a great slice of pop/jazz light. I would say lite, but it manages to steer clear of too much saccharin. Instead, it's a 10 song, 40-minute jaunt through the breezier side of the windy city. And, it's one that you should take.

Rating: 7.5