• Eggplant
  • Monkeybars (Dr. Dream) 1989 
  • Sad Astrology (Dr. Dream) 1990 

In an eternal quest for true human tenderness in song, this unassuming Southern California quartet explores avenues paved by Jonathan Richman and Daniel Johnston. Guitarists Jon Melkerson and Jeff Beals have the uncanny ability to spin tales of cheerful wistfulness.

On Monkeybars, Eggplant proves the Richman axiom that excessive volume and force are not required for soul-stirring rock’n’roll; an almost celebratory cover of Lou Reed’s “Vicious” grooves comfortably nearby the not-too-vicious slagging of “Rolling Stones” and the mundane fantasy travelogue of “Goin to Maine.” Sad Astrology sports bigger-budget, brighter production (by Russ Tolman) and more happy/sad beauties like “Unexpected” and “If You See the Real World Coming.” The title cut deserves an award for Best Apocalyptic Love Song of 1990.

[Scott McCaughey]