"Then I Woke Up"
For rock 'n' roll purists who think the music should be simple, direct and kind of dumb, it should take only one couplet to prove that Patrick O'Donnell is not their kind of guy. How about this one? "She's my chocolate brioche / She's my Juliette Binoche." Those are the opening lines of "The Best of All Impossible Girls," one of the liveliest songs on the singer-songwriter's second album, "Then I Woke Up." These 11 songs demonstrate that O'Donnell -- who runs a D.C.-based Prague-rock label, Skoda -- is an unabashed Europhile.
Although "As If It Really Mattered" fondly recalls the Replacements and the Minutemen, O'Donnell's songs most often show the influence of mid-'80s British indie-pop. The cantering pace of "Burning Youth" and wry lyrics of "My Bummed Out Sweetheart" suggest the Smiths, while "Every Grey Day Is the Same" flashes back to the spare, jumpy early style of the (actually Australian but London-based) Go-Betweens. O'Donnell, who plays all the instruments except drums, doesn't surpass his models. But fans of those smart bands may find that "Then I Woke Up" is their tarte aux fraises.
-- Mark Jenkins
Appearing Monday at the Black Cat with Kat Parsons. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Patrick O'Donnell, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 9123. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)