Nearly two years ago, Fishboy (the alias of Dentonite Eric Michener) wrote a letter to the

Dallas Observer

pledging that he would break Centro-matic's record for releasing the most CDs around town. Looks like the official statement was a jinx, because since writing that letter, Fishboy and his self-named quartet went into hiding to record their second indie-label album. Luckily,

Little D

proves that quality can be far superior to quantity, because this disc, two years in the making, is quite possibly the most love-filled album you'll hear in 2005. Seriously, try not to grin during the nerd-pop of "Quatro," the fuzzy, Casio-backed guitar riffs of "Water Works" and the acoustic freak-out of "Kichijoji." It's damn near impossible. The quirky lyrics alone will squeeze smiles out of longtime Fishboy fans, including the kiddie-nostalgia sing-along of "Tree Star," but it's the production and range of songs that propel this album beyond the band's nerdy niche. Accordions, horns, synthesizers, piano, lap steel and backup singers pop up at all the right places. Guest performers from bands like The Baptist Generals and Okkervil River add serious legitimacy to the sound, and "Asian Grain"'s accordion, kazoo and off-kilter percussion add up to what sounds like a song experiment Brian Wilson had hidden for decades.

Little D

's 42-minute run time jumps from somber reflections on youth to zombie Christmas trees, and somehow, the insanity gels together without getting too thick for straight-laced listeners. Fishboy's humble tape-deck beginnings may have been cute, but


is anything but


. Bravo, guys.

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