"I can't tell you where the money goes," sings F.M. Cornog, the one-man band behind East River Pipe, in answer to the question posed in "Where Does All The Money Go?," the opening track of Garbageheads On Endless Stun. Cornog doesn't have an answer, but the rest of the disc does: Money may make the world go around, but it doesn't make it any happier. On his latest East River Pipe album, Cornog again uses lo-fi lushness to lend a gritty nobility to characters like the 19-year-old prostitute of "Streetwalkin' Jean" and the doomed enforcer of "I Bought A Gun In Irvington." A veteran of the Hoboken streets, Cornog knows down-and-out as well as anyone. On Garbageheads, as on previous releases, he combines an ear for melodic atmospherics with suggestive lyrics about restless lives, freeway wanderers, and gated-community potheads. Cornog places songs about millionaires at the beginning and near the end of the album, then fills in the rest with the places his millionaires never see. For him, it's a world best expressed slowly and sadly, but without letting despair set in. Even on a song like "The Long Black Cloud," Cornog lets the sound of his Tascam 388 mini-studio ring hopefully with his trademark ambient pop. Only on the uptempo future-shock number "Arrival Pad #19," which imagines a dystopia of machine-driven detachment, does Cornog seem to run out of patience. He finds peace in a room full of knobs and keyboards, but the world that's lost the human touch scares him most.

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