Owen, "New Leaves"
An album about settling down and being a new husband and father has strong potential of being viewed by some listeners as boring. But Owen brainchild Mike Kinsella manages to avoid both fates on his latest effort, "New Leaves." Kinsella (who now records as a solo artist under the name Owen, following a long career in such indie rock bands as Cap'n Jazz, Joan of Arc and Aloha) plays the same sort of soft ballads found on his previous albums. But don't mistake the softness for weakness. While nothing is as biting as the aging hipster takedown "Femme Fatale" (from his 2006 set "At Home With Owen"), he pulls out the knives and slices pseudo-intellectuals on "A Trenchant Critique." Elsewhere, he accepts domesticity on "Amnesia and Me," giving up his past and declaring, "I know who I am/A housebroken, one-woman man." -Clover Hope