East River Pipe, ‘We Live in Rented Rooms’ (Merge)
In the 1990s, the line on F.M. Cornog, a.k.a. East River Pipe, went something like this: “If these songs are even half autobiographical, dude is gonna end up dying on a park bench.” Instead, Cornog thrived, intermittently releasing albums of spare, depressive, often beautiful guitar pop, sometimes recorded on a home eight-track, about the people too small for others to see. On 2006’s What Are You On?, he was too cranky by half, but here he returns to hopeful melancholy, lonely drum machines, everyday drug stories, even a ’70s yacht-rock sketch (“Tommy Made a Movie”). Glad you’re still breathing, man.