Pat McGee Band, Michael Tolcher and Pilot Radio

On Save Me, the Virginians in the Pat McGee Band serve up earnest VH1-ready pop-rock balladry that seldom offends. And because it chances so little, it wins nothing -- it's just sort of there, a platter of generic frat-bar rock and humdrum love songs gussied up with expensive production and national distribution, all courtesy of Warner Bros. It's clean, well-lit music, but it's got about as much character as the lobby of an Econolodge in suburban Indianapolis. You could call it the perfectly average album -- I should keep it around the office and use it as a gauge. How much better or worse is album x than Save Me?

Tolcher is a little more interesting, though he shares a similar Southern pop-rock vibe. On I Am, the Georgian shows off edgier, hip-hop-tinged production, a slightly hoarse voice with some character to it, an at-times funky approach and intriguing guest stars such as ?uestlove of the Roots. In fact, I'll go ahead and get started on my new way of assessing records now -- I Am is about 25 percent better than the Pat McGee Band's Save Me.

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John Nova Lomax
Contact: John Nova Lomax