The No Ones: The Great Lost No Ones Album (2020)

Another quick take on a great new release...

Scott McCaughey, in addition to his regular gigs fronting the Minus 5 and the Young Fresh Fellows (and as a solo artist), continues his work with a seemingly infinite number of side projects, at a pace that seems not to have slowed down at all despite a debilitating stroke a few years back.

The No Ones finds McCaughey joining up with frequent collaborator Peter Buck (McCaughey was the longtime touring guitarist with R.E.M., and Buck has played in various configurations of the Minus 5), as well as members of Norwegian indie pop band I Was A King (check out their 2019 release Slow Century, which sounds like Norway's answer to Teenage Fanclub).

And the album, on initial listen, may be my favorite McCaughey project in years.  It's chock full of hooky pop songs, both jangly (wonderfully catchy album opener "No One Falls Alone") and crunchy ("(Going Back To) Stockholm Syndrome").  There are also shades of Paisley Underground-reminiscent 60s psychedelia and garage band rock (the fuzzy romp "Saucerful of Nothing"; the Dream Syndicate-ish "Dream Something Else," which sports some lovely Jayhawks-styled harmonies).

The always witty and perceptive McCaughy handles most of the lyrics and vocals, with various guest stars dropping by (most notably Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers).  But Buck and the Norwegian dudes provide a more varied musical backdrop for him to play with, keeping this engaging throughout.  And it definitely sounds more like a "real" band than a cobbled-together supergroup.  

Here's the video for crunchy rocker "Straight Into The Bridge":
Go buy it at Bandcamp!