Though he’s based in San Francisco, Ryan Auffenberg’s music distinctly recalls the sounds of southern California. After a single solo album, Auffenberg has taken on the Halsted moniker after assembling a band for the follow-up. You can cue up the list of names now: the Eagles, Jackson Browne, Neil Young. But in actuality, Halsted are most reminiscent of an Irish band. That would be turn-of-the-millennium hopefuls the Thrills. Halsted haven’t gotten all the hype that band did, so maybe they won’t fade as quickly. But the easy-going, well-crafted pop-rock on display here offers nothing new.
Some tracks, including the winning opener “Cast No Shadow”, recall Wilco at their most poppy. “Knock on Wood” actually sounds a bit edgy, but that’s about as far as Auffenberg strays from this well-worn path. His voice, too, is high-pitched, pleasant, and quite similar to a score of other singers who have played similar music. Well done, but Auffenberg might have to shake things up a bit lest he get lost in those warm ocean waves.