Eric Bachmann doesn't get enough credit for being weird. Even within the parameters of his blueprint-for-indie-rock band Archers Of Loaf, he mixed up his sound, re-stringing and de-tuning guitars into new twangs and tones. With his current project, Crooked Fingers, he subverts singer-songwriter norms by subtly introducing unusual sounds and themes. Even more telling, Bachmann stepped away from rock-band rules altogether to record two albums under the name Barry Black. Largely instrumental, largely ignored, and undeniably odd, both Barry Black and its follow-up, Tragic Animal Stories, sounded like soundtracks to sinister underground movies. It makes sense, then, that someone should ask Bachmann to create sinister music for a real movie: Ball Of Wax is a yet-to-be-released film about a bored superstar baseball player who turns to murderous games for fun. On his soundtrack, Short Careers, Bachmann skillfully winds through moods–presumably following the plot, considering song titles like "Jimmy The Enforcer" and "The Mysterious Death Of Robert Tower"–creating pieces that tell a story even without words or an accompanying film. He follows soundtrack protocol by running variations on musical themes: A charging string section pops up several times to play the same melody line. Strings dominate much of Short Careers, though they're nicely juxtaposed with spooky little atmospheric pieces. Album opener "Good Morning Sleepyhead," a jaunty piece with a big melody, flows directly into "Forks And Knives," a track composed of what sounds like a music box and a broken film projector. "Vision And Execution" alternates between a solo guitar piece and fully orchestrated saturation before giving way to the experimental "Reach Out And Touch Someone," with its cards-in-spokes rhythm and banging piano. The soundtrack sounds slightly more serious than Bachmann's Barry Black albums, and it's appealing in much the same way as all of his music: He begins with a recognizable format, then twists it just enough to make it his own.