Ok, I can’t wait anymore. Winning Star Champion is the forthcoming debut album from Seattle’s Matt Batey, aka Ruler, due to drop May 25 of this year. But you need to hear this guy now. Besides, a few of his really catchy tunes are available now and won’t even figure in the line-up of the new record. Take “Easy Life” – my far and away fave Ruler track. This hook-filled treat swings just a bit, with a great break out in the chorus, only to drop out in the verses in an oh-so-seductive way. The layered background vocals are heaven! And the guy can afford to leave this gem off his debut album? Wow. Another free-standing single is “Complicated Mind,” a slow starting melodic burn than also takes off in the chorus. Winning Star Champion’s release is still months away but the three tracks in preview suggest this baby is going to cross the tape way ahead of the competition. The album’s opening track is “Petrified,” a perfect distillation of Ruler’s winning formula: ragged edges butted up against ever so expertly crafted poprock, with a few guitar riffs borrowed from your favourite New Order record. Another winner is “Unhindered Pace,” which reminds me Kevin Devine’s solo stuff and his work with Bad Books.