The other day, I noticed this song on my iPod by a band called So Cow (clever, right?). I don’t know where it came from; I’d never heard of the band before, but I gave the song a listen. “Casablanca,” it was called, a twitchy little number about how romance is nothing like the movies. I mean, I think that’s what it’s about—all you really notice is the singer yelping “Casa! Blanca!” over and over. Turns out, So Cow is the moniker of Brian Kelly, from Tuam, Ireland. I was intrigued, so I downloaded So Cow’s eponymous album. The verdict? Well, some of it’s excellent, some of it not so much. The worst songs aren’t horrible, they’re just noise-pop with too much noise, not enough pop. Whining guitars, tuneless yelling.

The best songs are off-kilter, lo-fi tunes where it sounds like the music is threatening to veer ahead of the vocals at any second. I can’t stop listening to “Halcyon Days,” a charming, out-of-tune reminiscence of adolescence. The lyrics are cringe-inducing in their honesty, for example: “Had a cigarette, I got sick / met a girl and I escaped quick.” “Greetings,” another highlight, exudes an urgency and earnestness somewhere between the Mountain Goats and the Thermals. Overall, an uneven album sprinkled with some damn catchy moments.

Alicia Hyman is an intern at Guernica. Read her last recommendation of Roger Ebert’s Twitter “here”:

At Guernica, we’ve spent the last 15 years producing uncompromising journalism.

More than 80% of our finances come from readers like you. And we’re constantly working to produce a magazine that deserves you—a magazine that is a platform for ideas fostering justice, equality, and civic action.

If you value Guernica’s role in this era of obfuscation, please donate.

Help us stay in the fight by giving here.