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PETE DROGE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Necktie Second (American) 1994
PETE DROGE & THE SINNERS
Find a Door (American) 1996

After honing his chops playing punk in Seattle's March of Crimes (which also contained future Soundgarden bassist Ben Shepherd), singer/guitarist/pianist Pete Droge relocated to Portland, Oregon, where he became one of the better finds in the '90s A&R scrounge for neo-folk artists. Entering the fray as a Northwestern troubadour who could easily be mistaken for Tom Petty's bastard son, Droge tips a retrospective nod to '70s boy-rock on Necktie Second, updating the genre with a bit of humor on "If You Don't Love Me (I'll Kill Myself)" and reviving the decade's songwriting heyday with the slick folk-pop of "Northern Bound Train." "Straylin Street" follows the same easy-flowing and catchy vibe. "Two Steppin Monkey" takes on corporate culture (although Droge's sniping lacks venom), while "Dog on a Chain" stretches out languorously. Fleshed out by producer/organist Brendan O'Brien and a couple of pals, Necktie Second is a quiet, smart backdrop for adult cocktail parties.

[Vickie Gilmer]