Timber Carnival Records
Don’t let the party girl on the cover fool you, this is a guy band. Well, it’s principally two guys — Dominic Castillo sings with a warm, intimate voice and Jonathan Baker picks guitar while sounding sincere, independent, and radio-friendly. They look like the sort of guys mom would want you to bring home — neatly trimmed hair, Merona dress shirts, and the sort of sport coats that would land them assistant manager jobs at any respectable chain. Songs run toward the vicissitudes of love — “Cruel Love” (chorus: “It won’t ever happen again”), “Keep You Around” (chorus: “Keep you around”), and even, “My Thoughts Are Killers” (chorus: “These arms are tired of holding up this world of yours”).
Besides Castillo and Baker, a stream of uncredited supporters offers up drumming, handclaps, and all the other oddments that a pop band needs. I can’t point to an instantly catchy tune, but everything is pleasant and friendly and the album grows if you stick with it. It’s as if all the evil vibes up in Portland and Seattle washed out with Cobain’s death, and now the rains bring only flowers and unicorns and happy music. It’s a pleasant change, and the angry disenfranchised youth of 2011 will have to look in another direction for a rallying sound. Right now we’re all standing in the drizzle and falling in love and loving every minute of it.