The Whiles CD Release Show w/Miranda Sound, Hal Hixson-10 p.m. Saturday at Little Brother's, 1100 N. High St.

[ Alive preview | listen at MySpace ]

It's fitting that Whiles mastermind Joe Peppercorn despises Wilco's new Sky Blue Sky because with the new Sleeper's Wake, the Columbus band has produced the kind of back-to-basics folk-rock album Jeff Tweedy and company tried-and failed-to make.

The Whiles, of course, didn't need to go back to basics-they've always been a pretty straightforward bunch. But that's neither here nor there. These songs are the kind that win over the masses, songs that, in a world where The Fray and Coldplay are radio staples, could really hit it off. That's not to lump the Whiles in with those bands, exactly-I'm sure Peppercorn would cringe at the thought-but even if the Whiles are not as in-your-face as those hitmakers, they share a user-friendly, hook-heavy sound that should appeal to music nerds and common folk alike. I could see everyone from aging baby boomers to their teenage daughters to philosophy grad students getting into this. If Zach Braff ever gets a hold of these guys, look out.

The Whiles CD Release Show w/Miranda Sound, Hal Hixson—10 p.m. Saturday at Little Brother's, 1100 N. High St.

[ Alive preview | listen at MySpace ]

It's fitting that Whiles mastermind Joe Peppercorn despises Wilco's new Sky Blue Sky because with the new Sleeper's Wake, the Columbus band has produced the kind of back-to-basics folk-rock album Jeff Tweedy and company tried—and failed—to make.

The Whiles, of course, didn't need to go back to basics—they've always been a pretty straightforward bunch. But that's neither here nor there. These songs are the kind that win over the masses, songs that, in a world where The Fray and Coldplay are radio staples, could really hit it off. That's not to lump the Whiles in with those bands, exactly—I'm sure Peppercorn would cringe at the thought—but even if the Whiles are not as in-your-face as those hitmakers, they share a user-friendly, hook-heavy sound that should appeal to music nerds and common folk alike. I could see everyone from aging baby boomers to their teenage daughters to philosophy grad students getting into this. If Zach Braff ever gets a hold of these guys, look out.

All right, let's table the radio talk. The songs on Sleeper's Wake are far richer than any of that garbage I was blabbing about before. The expertly crafted songs make it clear that Peppercorn has spent a lot of time with Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt records, even if the Whiles' edges are a little smoother than those rough-hewn troubadours.

As Peppercorn explained in our interview last week, he turned to those twin beacons particularly when it came to writing lyrics. After singer Zach Prout left, Peppercorn, a novice singer, was left to vocalize the words he had been writing from the start. When he stepped behind the mic, it brought the old lyrics' faults into focus for him, and he vowed to slave over these new words until they could stand up to the work of his heroes. He didn't need it to be as good—that would be impossible, he claims—but they should be something that could stand in the heroes' presence without getting squashed.

Mission accomplished, says me. The first lines of the album alone trump most entire albums:

"All the fireflies in the night Burn so slow, burn so bright In the day, they're only insects though And love remains, but it's not like it used to be Anymore"

The same idea permeates the simple but effective refrain of "Light in August": "I love you but I don't know why." Those songs stand out for their music as well. Both are fluid, irresistibly catchy numbers that manage to employ gargantuan hooks and yet come off as understated and tasteful. One gets a lovely boost from Emily Martin's cello, and the other is straight guitar pop. Every little trace of music on Sleeper's Wake seems well-considered, from Chris Bolognese's and Matt Peppercorn's interweaving guitar and bass parts on "Light in August" to Joe Peppercorn's muffled shouts at the end of "Songs We Used to Know." Most of the rest of the record is just as good—a remarkable feat, to be sure. It adds up to a highly anticipated show Saturday night that I have no reason to believe will be anything but spectacular.