Mooner Credit: Courtesy of Aerial Ballet Credit: Courtesy of Aerial Ballet

For more than a decade, Chicago singer-songwriter Lee Ketch has used his band Mooner to perfect an earthy indie-rock sound that draws equally from Americana and power pop. On the group’s new third album, The Alternative Universe of Love (Aerial Ballet), he reflects on his past with an irresistible combination of nostalgia, regret, and forgiveness. Longtime listeners will pick up on this backward-looking theme from the album’s title—it’s named after a song from Mooner’s self-released 2009 EP, Nudè Barmados, which came out before Ketch moved here from Portland, Oregon. Mooner dusted off that track and refined it for the new LP, and the updated version has a heartwarming, lived-in quality that shows off the band’s increasingly sophisticated aesthetic, particularly in its whimsical piano flourishes. Mooner multi-instrumentalist Kit Shields, who’s married to Ketch, has a lot to do with the music’s richness: she not only provided auxiliary vocals and played guitar and synth but also produced the entirety of The Alternative Universe of Love. The band’s mellow, easygoing playing and Ketch’s restrained singing radiate a wholesome gentless that invites repeated listens.   v