“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 Skintight—irrefutable 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.