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Halsted

Life Underwater

(Ashbury; US: 29 Jun 2010; UK: 13 Jul 2010)

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.

Rating:

John Bergstrom has been writing various reviews and features for PopMatters since 2004. He has been a music fanatic at least since he and a couple friends put together The Rock Group Dictionary in third grade (although he now admits that giving Pat Benatar the title of "first good female rocker" was probably a mistake). He has done freelance writing for Trouser Pressonline, Milwaukee's Shepherd Express, and the late Milk magazine and website. He currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with his wife and two kids, both of whom are very good dancers.


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