Matt Sharp | The Tyde

Someone must've done the alt-rock fairy a favor: This summer brings us not only former Lemonhead-professional junkie Evan Dando's unexpected return to record-making and show-playing, but also the long-awaited jump-start of ex-Weezer-Rentals dude Matt Sharp's solo career. His new four-song Puckett's Versus the Country Boy EP isn't at all what I expected from the former antique-synth nerd; it's soft-pedaled acoustic folk-pop that puts a little more emphasis on Sharp's grainy rasp than is wise but handily evokes the small Tennessee town he moved to after leaving Rivers Cuomo and Co. to conquer America's emo massive all by themselves. Actually, last week at an intimate New York club gig, Sharp did a little conquering himself, playing to an enraptured crowd of cute college kids who didn't even mind when he ruined old Rentals tunes by turning them into eight-minute Ida songs. Or when his acid-casualty banter made me think I was watching Dando.

Get a second helping of goofy acid-casualty beneficence--with antique synths--at Gypsy Tea Room on Wednesday night when dazed guitar-popsters the Tyde try to handily evoke the sunny California coast they call home. The band's big-in-England debut, 2001's Once, leaned a little heavily on the addled cosmic-cowboyisms for my taste, but the new Twice features some of the prettiest, most enthusiastic strumming I've heard this year. And like Sharp, these guys harbor long roots: Front man Darren Rademaker used to front the bizarre L.A. outfit Further (as well as some group called Shadowland I'd have to ask my nonexistent older brother about), and a couple of Tyde members are also Beachwood Sparks, a group with whom Dando's probably traded war stories of several stripes. Pass the hash pipe, dude.

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