I got this album from a friend who knows way too much about indie music (that said, does anybody really know anything about indie? What does it really mean when "indie" albums are being released on major labels? How do we classify and qualify it? The indie that can be known is not the true indie. When you can hear the sound of one-handed hand-claps in the background of an Afghan Whigs album, you are ready to know the true indie). My first thoughts were, "Who is this guy?" "Why should I care?" and "How good can an album with a close-up of a cat on the cover be?" I will answer these questions and many others in lame-o sixth grade essay format in the paragraphs below.
A.C. Newman is probably best known as the guy from The New Pornographers. Before that he was the guy from Zumpano and before that he was the guy from Superconductor. In this case he is the guy whose name is on the front of the album. The Slow Wonder is A.C. Newman's first solo album. Had I known when I first gave this album a spin that he was the guy from The New Pornographers I would have been much less surprised by how good this album is. Now that I know, you know, and everybody knows it's still a really good album and an enjoyable listen every single time.
A.C. Newman has this magical ability to write quirky little pop songs and perform them in this delicious slightly off-kilter sort of way. I listened to the bulk of this album on my way to work this morning and it had me smiling and tapping my toes (the guy behind me could not have been more pissed by the fact that I was tapping my brakes every two feet) despite the fact that I was running late on my morning commute to a job I hate.
"Drink to Me, Babe, Then" is probably the best song on the album. I nearly drove this song into the ground a year or so ago when it started showing up on every mix tape and playlist I was making at the time. I was smart enough to back off and give the whole album a little breathing room. Having not heard it for a while, "Drink to Me, Babe, Then" is as good as ever. I also highly recommend "On the Table" and "The Cloud Prayer."
I have seen The Slow Wonder in bargain bins (I picked up a copy on vinyl from a bargain bin for $3) and discount racks in almost every record store I've been in lately. If you have a few bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you might want to drop them for a copy of this album. You won't regret it.