Traffic and Weather

Fountains of Wayne. Virgin. They're not quite John Cheever or Alice Munro, but Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood are the closest thing in rock and roll to great short-story writers.

They're not quite John Cheever or Alice Munro, but Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger and Chris Collingwood are the closest thing in rock and roll to great short-story writers. Throwing Beatles-esque rock, synth-pop, country, and you-name-it into the stylistic blender, the irresistible Traffic and Weather captures the quiet desperation and occasional triumphs of ordinary people, including the lonely guy hitting on a clerk at the dmv, the Long Island waitress who flees to Europe on a whim, and the cheerful pothead subsisting on Doritos and Oliver Stone movies. Schlesinger and Collingwood prefer dry, understated vocals that wisely shrug off melodrama, realizing that their indelible character studies don't need a hard sell.