By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
One Lone Car's latest full-length was recorded at Uranus Recording in Tempe, Arizona, the facility owned by Gin Blossoms frontman Robin Wilson. The connection is not tangential: The local quartet has opened for the "Hey Jealousy" hitmakers several times over the past year, for starters. And like the Gin Blossoms, One Lone Car spins sweet, loaded pop songs that are a bit more substantive than bubblegum-pop and better crafted than most radio-ready modern rock. Dustin "Dei" Plegge heads up One Lone Car with a pure, emotive voice capable of displaying decent range. He pulls the whisper-to-a-scream crescendo in "Highway," the album's most full-on rock track, but most songs find him a little bruised but never broken.
A thread of romantic disillusionment unites many of these ten tracks, though the overall pop-rock spirit keeps North, South, East, and the Rest from becoming solely a break-up record. "Burned Away My Funny Feeling" mixes self-loathing and self-improvement with a chorus that declares that "everything is dead inside but I'm fine," and the jangly guitars and spring-loaded snare beats keep the song from treading too deeply into emo's abyss. Unfortunately, the album's most upbeat track is a dreaded "hidden track," tacked on at the end of "I Sleep." Ambient barroom noise and a small army of hand-clappers backing up the sprightly piano chords, and a full-hearted, sloppy chorus ends the record with a sense of playfulness that would have brightened up other spots on the disc.
7 p.m. Saturday, March 8. The Bluebird, 2706 Olive Street. $8. No phone. www.bluebirdstl.com. Want your CD to be considered for a review in this space? Send music c/o The Riverfront Times, Attn: Homespun, 6358 Delmar Boulevard, Suite 200, St. Louis, MO 63130. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.