RUSS STEDMAN “Well That Was Fun” (Total Drag)

Russ Stedman got beat up, but hopefully it wasn’t for making his music. He’s got Frank Black’s dusty-philosopher intensity on those later Catholics records, and a pie face to match. But there’s so much quirk in this stew that it’s impossible not to wink and nod at Stedman along with him. You’re allowed in on the joke.

Maybe that’s where the bloody face comes in – Stedman let the wrong hombres in on the wrong joke. But he’s none the worse for wear, celebrating his misfortune as he tends to do, punching up the production with 1980s new wave drum machines and synths and flanger pedals at points, plastering his busted mug on the j-card. He’s easy to root for, this Stedman fella. He’s easy to get into.

Got a hankering for some catchy nu-new-wave hits with a healthy dose of self-deprecation and a razor wit? Check out “Well That Was Fun,” then. Did I mention it’s a collection of Stedman’s tunes from other albums? This is like a greatest hits!