Fences' Ultimate Puke EP doesn't quite deliver what its title implies—to me it implies crusty, 45-second basement-punk songs about spanging and drunken fisticuffs. In fact, this collection of sparse, melancholy folk songs is pretty much the antithesis of the assumptions I had when the EP landed on my desk several months ago. Frontman Chris Mansfield sings about his troubles with the weary resignation of someone who's been kicked around by life and doesn't expect the situation to change anytime soon. But unlike the work of other songwriters whose songs are so saturated with pathos that they're difficult to listen to unless your psyche's in a similar state, Mansfield's pretty folk melodies command such attention that at first you might miss the brutal statements that pepper the album—statements like "I never felt love" and "I didn't always feel like shit." Fences' presence at SXSW this year is strictly unofficial, but since Mansfield's currently in Victoria, recording with Sara Quin of Tegan and Sara, don't be surprised if next spring finds the band on a newfound record label, playing an official showcase with a whole new lease on life.