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Earlimart, ‘Mentor Tormentor’ (Majordomo)

Aaron Espinoza has spent years as that other singer/songwriter in Los Angeles’ Silver Lake neighborhood, next to his pal and mentor Elliott Smith. And maybe Smith’s shadow overwhelmed Earlimart’s last couple of albums, on which too-crafty experimentation sabotaged awesomely lonely songs. But on Mentor Tormentor;, bassist Ariana Murray steps up to provide sonic stability (as cosongwriter and coproducer) and even takes an Aimee Mann-style stab at lead vocals on “Happy Alone”. Still, Espinoza is a solitary soul, capping the wispy, whispered vocals of “Nevermind the Phonecalls” with a reminder: “No one likes to be alone / But comin’ down’s better on your own.”

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