Above the Golden State
The melodic jangle pop from this Portland, OR, trio might have a "been there, done that" feel, but for the most part it works to the group's advantage. Rather than putting you to sleep, it puts you at ease. From the first moments of "Loud and Clear," the disc puts you in your comfort zone and recalls the carefree air of '90s-style power pop — the Matthew Sweet/Fastball/Wallflowers school of roots rock that is never fully outgrown. Songwriter and lead vocalist Michael Watson delivers with a smooth, passionate tenor and a round of Scripture-based lyrics lifted mainly from Psalms. At times, the familiarity of their sound works against them, but with some stylish work from Tim Aylward on keyboards and Brook Mosser on drums, the guys vary the tempo and the topics enough to keep things interesting throughout. Highlights include the story of guilt and redemption in "The Haunting," the giddiness of "I'll Love You So," and the slow build of "Streets."