With warmer weather and longer days on hand, there comes a concomitant change-up in the ol' car CD player. Singles like War's "Why Can't We Be Friends," Sly Stone's "Hot Fun in the Summertime" and even the Cars' "Magic" sound just right blaring from an auto with the sun shining down from above and a cold six-pack in the backseat (unopened, of course).
Add to that list this fine local pop-rock release, which is jam-packed with great melodies and offers a fresh sound from one of the city's most promising young groups. Singer- guitarists Craig Feazel and Paul Beebe, bassist-keyboardist Cullen "Monkey" Evans and drummer Chris Laurents have crafted a low-key treasure that pulls off the neat trick of maintaining a snappy integrity while sounding commercial enough for radio play.
Things get off to a lolling good start with "8th Street," in which the narrator accurately encapsulates both the hope and dread of the "getting to know you" phase of a relationship when all things seem fresh. The buoyant "Waterfall (Pawn Shop)" carries forth this mini-theme as a couple -- perhaps the same one from "8th Street" -- window-shops for a ring. Feazel wrote both numbers and delivers them energetically but with a light touch, whereas on "City" his funky blues-rock guitar riff is more heavy-handed. (Do we detect a nod to Thin Lizzy/KISS in the twin guitar chorus?) "Annie," his album- closing sweet ballad of reaffirmation, swirls in acoustic guitars, cymbals and keyboards without succumbing to saccharine sentiments.
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Most of Beebe's songs have a similar depth and texture. "Reddish Skies," the most radio-friendly tune, owns the record's catchiest melody. "One More Day" and "All in All" likewise register long after the disc stops spinning, but the ambitious, jazz-tinged "Illusions" and the funkalicious "Going Away" don't measure up to the rest of the material. Each was a decent idea, but neither is adequately developed.
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Overall, Lottery Bar delivers on its promise of a prize. It's a fresh and exciting collection of songs played by musicians who know that their instruments should serve the songs rather than overwhelm them.