Every couple of years, Cleveland songwriter Mike Uva tosses off an album of sublime jangle pop, tangled with wry, self-observant lyrics, melancholy chord progressions and encased in warmly lo-fi production values. The world pays no attention to these gem-like albums, but that’s the world’s loss, because Uva is as good, in his way, as a string of big ticket songwriters. He is, for instance, as catchy as Bob Pollard, as slyly subversive as Lou Barlow, as effortlessly melodic as Nick Salomon.
“Magic Marker” is maybe the best of the Static Songs, recorded in the basement studio of keyboard player Chris Frohring. It’s more abrasive and faster than the rest, its bent guitar notes flitting in and out of a tense, kick-drum/snare cadence. This is the bedrock, and out of it emerges fanciful images, a magic marker spewing the colors of sea and sky and world from its tip, and out of this bedrock comes a swirling, sensual chorus, as billowy soft as the rhythm is hard. Static Songs begins with the observation, “I was born with a hook for hand/and a typewriter salesman where my father used to stand,” the line fitting perfectly into “Hook Boy”‘s offhand but devilishly insistent melody. There’s a shiver of electric keys, an angsty Dire Straits-ish guitar solo, an explosion of driving drums, but what you remember is the way the melody twists and turns, buoyant and yearning by turns. Hooks for hands, indeed. There are hooks everywhere you look here.