Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Steak House Mints - Out of the Sky

You have to admire Chicago's Steak House Mints for having the sense of humor to name themselves after a post-dinner breath freshener. The name is certainly amusing enough to grab the unsuspecting listener's attention, but after playing the band's debut album, "Out of the Sky," it's clear that they're notable for much more than what they call themselves. The record is a worthy listen throughout, full of beautiful Beatles-esque melodies and clever songwriting.

The Mints came to be after singer-songwriter Billy Dave Sherman assembled an ensemble to help bring his tunes to life, recruiting drummer Steve Gillis (formerly of Filter), bassist Shawn Sommer, guitarist Scott Tipping and keyboardist Vijay Tellis. The result is an album that sounds like the band has been releasing music together for years.

Sherman obviously knows his way around a pop song, delivering upbeat gems such as "All Because of You" - which features a pure, sunny vibe reminiscent of the Zombies classic "This Will be Our Year" - and "If I Were President," a fun, catchy rocker that explores just what its title suggests (check out the band's accompanying music video here). This isn't the kind of pop music that tries to have deeper meaning or unnecessary experimentation to make it okay for the hipster crowd to dig. It's just good-natured, catchy fun that gives you the chance to sing along to lines like, "If I were president my first lady'd be a stone cold fox/I'd cover her in furs and rocks/I'd make peace between the nerds and jocks/I'd make sure every cowboy had a gun/And find out what's up with area 51."

That said, the Mints play with quite a few sounds on the record, mastering soaring orch-pop via "Blue Fly" and "Flying in My Dreams" and finding Sherman sounding like indie rock's answer to Michael Bublé on "Cheap Thrill" and "Cat Dance." All of the material is strong, but the livelier power pop numbers provide the instant gratification.

"Out of the Sky" is a genuinely refreshing listen that justifies repeat plays and shows great promise for The Steak House Mints. You can pick it up at CD Baby.

More Chicago music reviews:

Pet Lions - Soft Right

Camera - Fire & Science

tenniscourts - Dig the New Sounds of tenniscourts

The Living Blue - Walk Talk Rhythm Roam

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