Gran Bel Fisher

This extravagantly named pop-rock dude was born and bred in small-town Ohio, providing him with a solid Rust Belt foundation that's reflected in his sturdy meat-and-potatoes songwriting. The tunes on Full Moon Cigarette, Gran Bel Fisher's debut, explore familiar young-man lyrical turf regarding life and love, and his handsome, high-flying melodies do the soulful-beefcake thing without alienating guys who dug Jonny Lang before they ever saw his pretty bedroom eyes.

Despite the modest Midwestern upbringing, Fisher lives in Los Angeles these days, so Cigarette isn't without its fair share of flash. Producer Dave Bassett, an industry vet with Brian Setzer and Bijou Phillips on his résumé, dresses up Fisher's material in a variety of sleek studio textures: "Edible" is moody post-Radiohead art-rock, "Moment" jumpy New Wave folk-blues, "Crash and Burn" piano-laced cabaret pop. "Do We Say Bye" bites a hunk of melody from "Bohemian Rhapsody" before morphing into a beery Oasis-style singalong. The result is not unlike Pete Yorn's early stuff, where you could hear that fellow Los Angeles transplant trying out styles to see which ones fit. Luckily for Fisher, on Cigarette they're all fairly flattering.

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Mikael Wood