Literate Southern rock from Middle Tennessee 

As contemporary Southern rock bands go, Memphis' Lucero is more dynamic and charismatic than Murfreesboro's Glossary. And fellow Middle Tennesseans Kings of Leon are more danceable and definitely more high-profile. But near as I can tell, the only band in the genre that writes sharper songs are the Drive-By Truckers.

I was charmed by Glossary's previous album, 2004's How We Handle Our Midnights, a record where the romantic rootlessness of the genre was pinned down by a very post-collegiate specificity. The music felt like it emanated from a real place rather than a record collection.

The songs on For What I Don't Become are more generalized, which can be both a strength and weakness. This band has enough flair -- musical and verbal -- to sidestep roots-rock clichés. And the less concrete focus fits a band that's grown up a little and, presumably, hit the road more.

An awful lot of songs on For What I Don't Become muse on mortality, but they're never morbid. The opening "Shaking Like a Flame," which, crucially, provides the album's title, finds lead singer Joey Kneiser bitter but bemused: "Surrounded by rows and rows of the same house/Stretched out under the sky/Like a cemetery that just waits for you to die." But as these songs accumulate, the theme that emerges is a restlessness that's similar to the feeling that animated How We Handle Our Midnights but made more universal. There's an admirably understated desperation this time that feels less literary and more natural.

Musically, this band gives bar-band rock a good name. The sound is basic and sturdy, with just enough flourishes (love the piano, handclaps, and bluesy guitar licks on "Poor Boy") to differentiate it from the pack. The key is the harmony vocals between Kneiser and his wife Kelly, but there's also an alt-rock undercurrent (I hear echoes of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr.) that pops up here and there. -- Chris Herrington

Grade: A-

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