Canadian singer/songwriter Howie Beck plays pop music that balances a melancholy undertow with the bright buoyancy of superbly crafted melodies, and the result has made him an international phenomenon almost in spite of himself. Toronto-based Beck made his first album in 1997; the home-recorded and self-released Pop and Crash was primarily made while Beck was stuck in the house getting over a case of mononucleosis. While Pop and Crash didn't find much of an audience, its reception encouraged Beck to try again, and his second album, another homemade effort titled Hollow, fared significantly better. Like Pop and Crash, 1999's Hollow was released through Beck's own 13 Clouds imprint, but a handful of good reviews and enthusiastic word of mouth brought the album to the attention of a British independent label, Easy! Tiger Records, and their 2001 reissue of the album became a modest hit in the U.K., and helped spread his name in Canada and the United States.