In the how-to manual of contemporary rock music, modesty and maturity don't merit a footnote. Narcissism and bravado guide the way, even if all the cooler-than-thou poses are just overwrought signs pointing toward a vacuum. In contrast, the Half Knots
, an intra-continental collaboration between Danny Kathriner (St. Louis), Chris Peterson (Austin) and Todd Schnitzer (San Diego) are so self-effacing that they threaten not to exist at all. They don't even do MySpace. Instead they patiently craft lush, acoustic pop songs, which surge unexpectedly into organ and fuzz-guitar climaxes, and then cross-fade into mandola- and fiddle-lit laments. They have enough sweep and twang to merit the Americana tag, but they sound more like soul music for the morning after and all the mid-day reveries after that.