“Computer Geniuses” by Joel Kraft, from Computer Geniuses:
Last year, the Walkmen covered Harry Nilsson’s Pussycats in its entirety, paying homage to a thrillingly eccentric ’70s singer-songwriter. For all the affection involved in the project, it’s telling that the Walkmen’s other output bears little resemblance to Nilsson’s work. With the exception of Bright Eyes, who clearly adores Jim Croce, few indie cool kids emulate that era’s troubadours. On Computer Geniuses, Kansas City’s Joel Kraft resurrects the kind of alternately earnest and whimsical folk-rock now quarantined to oldies and soft-rock stations while also dabbling in bluegrass and retro lounge. The title track swings like a show tune, with a killer jazzy bass solo and charming doo-wop vocals, then segues into a slick piano-bar version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Heart and Soul” and a plaintive take on Leonard Cohen’s “If It Be Your Will.” Computer Geniuses closes with four ballads, all of which contain catchy acoustic strums, charismatic vocals and clever lyrics (She wears white running shoes/She says you can escape your past/If you’re fast on your feet). However, the album could’ve used more upbeat numbers, a “Big Bad Leroy Brown” here and there, not only to spike the pace but also because the title track demonstrates that Kraft wears peppy smartly. His CD-release party is Friday, May 11, at Bar Natasha.