Satellite Lot Second Summer

[Self-Released; 2005]

Styles: rock, pop, love songs
Others: Grandaddy, Bruce Springsteen, The Pixies

The exuberance of the opening guitar lick (and I do mean lick) on Satellite Lot's Second Summer is like a cool blast of water hitting your face unexpectedly in the middle of the dog days of summer. Its presence sets "That Wasn't Me" soaring into the pop-rock stratosphere. It's a pure moment, but a deceptive one to be sure. For when one delves more deeply into Second Summer, there's little of that unbridled joy to be found, and instead two young songwriters with a touch of lovesickness are hiding there, slyly attempting to bare their confused souls to the willing listener.

Of course, it's never as easy as that. There's a lot of ground covered over the course of 11 songs, from the jazzed-out sad-sac balladry of "The First Day" to the rip-snortin' Springsteenisms of "Hold Your Fire." Yet, underlying every stylistic shift, grunt, and croon are the travails of youthful longing being snuffed out -- the realization that love and creativity won't flow as easily as one might have hoped it could. Lucky for us that Satellite Lot are incredibly talented at conveying such emotions and that the chameleon-like shells of the compositions are always crafted with the utmost care. These are songs that almost make one yearn for the pangs of unrequited or failed love. A line like "May I propose a toast to those who love too much/ You'll destroy everything you touch" snuck in at the end of "Battle to Be One," the album's heartfelt paean to the competitive undercurrents that can devour relationships, will have you wanting to raise a glass to celebrate the sorry state of adult affairs.

But lingering on only the anguish of the lyrics doesn't do service to the music. So much ground is covered, though not in an overreaching manner. While these boys and their cadre of musicians have the chops to pull off just about anything they set their mind to, it never feels forced or out of place. The throbbing down tempo dance feel to "Double Yellow Lines" seemingly comes out of nowhere among the largely rock-oriented material, but it breathes itself so organically into the flow of the album that only the most curmudgeonly of rock purists would begrudge its dark-tinged synth pop. The only moment on the album that falls out of step is the somewhat awkwardly mixed intro to "In Protest" where the sweeping, and mildly intrusive, drum-led intro pulls one out of the flow, but then only slightly, as it quickly settles into an epic and spacey folk song. Even this does little to tarnish the luminosity of the debut effort by Satellite Lot, an effort that triumphantly heralds the coming of age of a great pop-rock band yearning for an even mix of honest lyrical expression and unbounded musical curiosity. (Note: Complete album is available for free download from the band's website for a limited time.)

1. That Wasn't Me
2. All Defenses Down
3. That Wasn't Me
4. Blessed with a Curse
5. The First Day
6. Battle to Be One
7. Keeping You
8. Double Yellow Lines
9. Long Lost Love
10. In Protest
11. By Lantern Light