By Steve Weinstein
By Bryan Bierman
By Lindsey Rhoades
By Chaz Kangas
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Jena Ardell
By Jesse Sendejas Jr.
By Katherine Turman
"Don't get me confused with the fucking Matrix or some shit like that," singer-songwriter-producer Butch Walker told me in an e-mail a few weeks ago, after I'd asked him how familiar he'd been with the Donnas before signing on to helm their spunky Gold Medal. Turns out he's been a fan since The Donnas Get Skintightirrefutable proof that he's a real-life rock 'n' roller, not part of the three-headed android killing machine responsible for "Complicated" and "So Yesterday" and "Why Can't I?"
On Letters, his second solo album since the demise of his largely ignored Atlanta glam-rock outfit Marvelous 3, Walker offers more evidence: impassioned Achtung Baby wailing in "Don't Move," yummy Pete Yorn strums in "Maybe It's Just Me," shiny Mott the Hoople amp shimmer in the not outlandishly titled "#1 Summer Jam." Fortunately, he lets his latent fear of pop slip in "Mixtape," a gooey power ballad Seth Cohen should anthologize, and the string-strung "Joan," which actually reminds me of Ben Folds's largely ignored non-Five outfit Fear of Pop. Wispy mustache or no, you kind of have to love a guy who saves his disco bassline and Velveeta synths for a tune called "Uncomfortably Numb."
Butch Walker plays the Bowery Ballroom December 6.