Alot more people play on Magnet's second long-player than the first, but that doesn't mean the D.C. group has expanded. In a sense, Magnet has shrunk, since it's now clear that singer-songwriter Mark Goodman is the only permanent member. Producer David Lowery has enlisted his Cracker/Gutterball/Camper Van Beethoven cohorts to flesh out the sound, and ex-Velvets drummer Maureen Tucker plays on two tracks, but Goodman's songs are the focus.

On Magnet's debut, "Don't Be a Penguin," Tucker's primal thump bestowed authenticity on Goodman's Velveteen vamps, most of which descended from that band's "Foggy Notion." (Indeed, Goodman had played in a band that took its name from that song.) That influence can still be heard on this album, notably in the Lou Reedish guitar of "Over You." But Lowery and his pals have brought a wealth of new (and frequently countryish) timbres, and Goodman's songs show more range too. The singer still might benefit from the give-and-take of playing in a real band, but such new songs as "Drag" and "There's a Brick" indicate that Goodman's doing pretty well on his own.

Appearing Friday at the Black Cat with Smartbomb and the Spontanes. To hear a free Sound Bite from Magnet, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8128. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)