If anyone knows the evils of the music business firsthand, it's Ike Reilly. A dark-humored singer-songwriter originally from Libertyville, Illinois, he spent the better part of a decade kicking around the Midwest in groups that were never able to translate their local fan base into widespread popularity. He had set dreams of a music career aside in favor of jobs that actually paid a living wage, like a gig as a hotel doorman, when Dust Brother Mike Simpson flipped for one of his demos and helped him line up a deal with Republic, a division of Universal. Reilly's debut for the imprint, 2001's Salesmen and Racists, generated loads of critical ballyhoo but crummy sales, and since major-label execs value profits over acclaim, they soon dropped his contract. Fortunately, he's resurfaced on an indie, Rock Ridge Music -- and Sparkle in the Finish, a new CD due in stores next month, shows that his talent has survived his latest professional setback. The disc is a musically straightforward but lyrically twisted look at the life of Reilly that's typified by "Holiday in New York," a tune featuring the telling passage "I'm pretty sure you won't ever want to sleep with me again/'Cause you need more and more and more and more/And I can't get you all." If he's back in a band and still can't get laid, the music business really is evil.