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Who? Sundowner is the alter ego of Chris McCaughan, co-frontman and guitarist for Chicago punk trio the Lawrence Arms. While the Arms were out supporting their stellar 2006 album Oh! Calcutta!, McCaughan decided to dust off some songs that had thus been sitting on the sidelines; instead of just sleeping in the van, he used the time before their nightly gigs to perform acoustically at local coffee shops and bookstores. These impromptu solo performances went over so well that he consequently chose set the songs to record, calling on the skills of various friends for help, most notably cellist Jenny Choi. McCaughan then joined forces with his buddies at San Francisco’s Red Scare Industries to release Sundowner’s debut album, Four One Five Two, last month.

What’s the Deal? Four One Five Two is a sweetly melodic set of bittersweet memories and humble reflections that wash down easy with a cold glass of Old Style. Steady strums and a mournful cello make the harmony-laden “This War is Noise” as soothing as it is wistful, while the restless longing of “Midsummer Classic” can be practically felt through the speakers. It’s superficially a far cry from the rowdy punk rock anthems that are McCaughan’s usual poison (aside from those two stripped-down Lawrence Arms covers that is), but though he has unplugged his guitar and pulled up a stool, that same everyday-guy sort of introspection and charm (not heart-on-sleeve emo) remains at the core of Sundowner’s songs.

Fun Fact: McCaughan recorded Four One Five Two at the Windy City’s Atlas Studios, choosing his album’s title in honor of his parents — that’s their home address where they let him crash during the album’s sessions. COREY APAR

Now Hear This: Sundowner – “This War is Noise” DOWNLOAD MP3

On the Web: Sundowner at MySpace

Talk: Is this sundowner worthy of staying for dinner?