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New releases from Eric Bachmann, Information Society, and Bob Mould 

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click to enlarge Eric Bachmann
  • Eric Bachmann

Eric Bachmann

Eric Bachmann

Merge Records

File next to: Jason Isbell, Gram Parsons, Bill Callahan

Since Eric Bachmann disbanded Archers of Loaf in 1999, the North Carolina songwriter has released albums under his own name and with his band Crooked Fingers. As a result, he'd abandoned the solo path for five years while touring with Neko Case and producing other artists' albums. But this new self-titled album changes things up by emphasizing pedal steel guitar and baby grand piano, giving its nine tracks a distinct country flavor with just a hint of Phil Spector-style production. The deceptively simple result recalls Dylan's Nashville Skyline, while subtly powerful tracks like "Mercy" and "Modern Drugs" show that Bachmann remains one of the finest living American songwriters. With its overall back-to-basics tenor, this solo effort is the audio equivalent to down-home Southern comfort food. — Loring Wirbel

click to enlarge Orders of Magnitude
  • Orders of Magnitude

Information Society

Orders of Magnitude

The Splinter Group

File next to: ABC, Human League, Simple Minds

Listeners can be forgiven for thinking that Information Society is an early-'80s synth outfit from the U.K.— there's an unmistakable air of early-MTV-era electronic dance pop to all of their tunes. So it might come as some surprise to learn that the group is actually all-American, based in Minneapolis. A decade after their 1988 breakthrough with the No. 3 single "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy), Information Society slipped under the radar. With the new Orders of Magnitude, the band offers up 11 knowing covers of classic tunes from some of their heroes, including Gary Numan, Heaven 17, and even Disney composers the Sherman Brothers. A remake of "Beautiful World," featuring DEVO's Gerald V. Casale on vocals, proves the band can live up to its New Wave influences. — Bill Kopp

click to enlarge Patch the Sky
  • Patch the Sky

Bob Mould

Patch the Sky

Merge Records

File next to: Hüsker Dü, Sugar, Dinosaur Jr.

Bob Mould is that rarest of creatures: a songwriter who can write impassioned, heartfelt lyrics, wrap them inside ear-candy melodies, and deliver them with the instrumental force of hardcore punk. The former Hüsker Dü frontman's skillful merging of those disparate qualities has led to his status as a kind of all-things-to-all-people artist. On Patch the Sky, the midtempo "Voices in My Head" and the speedier "The End of Things" should please listeners who demand guitars set on stun as well as those who insist on a top-notch melodic quotient. Mould has a particular knack for crafting skewed vocal harmonies by overdubbing his own voice in the studio; those voicings really shouldn't work, but somehow do. Mould's 11th studio album proves he can still write songs of angst and despair and then serve them up in the catchiest, rocking-est manner possible. — Bill Kopp

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