"All I want is to be a happy man," announces Richmond eccentric Mark Linkous on the second album by the loose assemblage called Sparklehorse, but don't take that goal too literally. "Good Morning Spider" is even curiouser than "Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot," the previous outing by Linkous and his pals (who on this album include Vic Chestnutt and Cracker's David Lowery). A sprawlingly charming collection of 17 country, punk and country-punk songs and songlets, the album sounds alternately astral and Appalachian.
Like its predecessor, "Good Morning Spider" often has a rural vibe, notably on such spare, ethereal tracks as "Junebug" and "Saint Mary." (The latter is apparently named for the London hospital where Linkous nearly died three years ago.) Yet the album also jumbles such urbanities as radio static, chamber-music cello and lyrics from the third Velvet Underground album. (This time the borrowed lines are from "Candy Says.") Sparklehorse roars through "Pig" and "Cruel Sun" and turns jaunty on "Ghost of His Smile," a vibraphone-tinkling tune that would be commercial if not for its bottom-of-the-well distortion. Such lo-fi flourishes may seem perverse, but if staying true to one's own cracked vision is a joy, then Linkous should be a happy man.
Appearing Tuesday at the 9:30 club with Mercury Rev. To hear a free Sound Bite from Sparklehorse, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8127. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)