Indiana, the third album from Nashville singer-songwriter David Mead, was one of the most underrated records of last year. With his aching tenor pipes ("A guy in Chicago said I sing like a girl," he cracks on one song) and concise, stripped-down pop ditties, Mead easily brought joy to Border Radio's jaded ears.

But don't take my word for it; I'm just a crackpot columnist in an alt weekly. My esteemed colleague, Stephen Thompson of the Onion A.V. Club, singled out Indiana as the "most consistently warm and winning album" of 2004. "I was flattered, excited, and very surprised," admits Mead. "You just sort of expect to get the piss taken out of you in the Onion. It was nice dose of sincerity, from a source you'd least expect it from."

If you're among the dedicated already hipped to Indiana, there's more where that came from. This spring, Mead is releasing a six-song EP, featuring tracks recorded but never released when he was under contract to RCA Records. And on March 1, he'll start work on a his fourth full-length, "which will hopefully be out late this year, or early next year." Meanwhile, the rest of you can discover what all the rhubarb is about when Mead plays the Tractor Tavern this Friday, February 4.

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Is there anything punk-rock-cum-country quartet the Supersuckers won't shill? First their risqué "I'm a Bike Jock" athletic supporter advertorial spread in Sports Illustrated left many a middle-aged Midwestern male questioning his heterosexuality. And now, they're at it again…

If you've checked out the beer aisle of your local grocer lately, you may have noticed a new brew nestled between the Bud and Black Label: Dale's Pale Ale and Old Chub Scottish Style Ale, from Colorado's scrappy Oskar Blues Brewery. Look closer, and you'll notice these hand-canned microbrews, available for the first time in the Pacific Northwest, are available in singing 12-packs, featuring a promotional CD of live and studio cuts by Eddie Spaghetti and company.

"The Supersuckers have been looking to get into the disposable commodities market for quite a while now, and we hope this is our foot in the door," admitted Eddie when cornered. He prefers the lighter Pale Ale to the full-bodied Old Chub, but what really sold him was the packaging. "I like that they put fancy beer in cans."

Speaking of shameless self-promotion: If you're a local club, record label, recording studio, or musical act, be sure to register for The Stranger's 2005 Musicians' Directory. You can do it online (at www.thestranger.com) or using the form in this week's paper (see page 34). Spare yourself the embarrassment of submitting your demo to a talent booker who left Seattle two years ago by taking advantage of this essential guide to Seattle music. No excuses--it's friggin' free!

kurt@thestranger.com

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