Make Good Choices
His band Harvey Danger played its last shows in 2009, so leader Sean Nelson has been slowly amassing tracks for this debut solo album. The songs suggest he's likely in a better spot now, since he can't possibly fire himself. His little black book includes R.E.M.'s Peter Buck and Death Cab for Cutie's Chris Walla, and they're said to be here—but more importantly, Nelson is fully committed and writing the kinds of smart songs that made Harvey Danger an alt-rock band that worked well above the median talent level. The spirited piano romp "Creative Differences" alone mentions the 59th Street Bridge (where he wasn't feeling so groovy) and Cripple Creek (where things weren't quite so up). The heartbreak of "Brooklyn Bridge" is accompanied by a barroom piano that underlines the key line "It would be funny/if it weren't so depressing," making it a little bit funny. "Kicking Me Out of the Band" suggests he's not above the withering criticism he offers the new breed in "Stupid & 25 (The Incredibly Sad Shuffle)."