Malibu Storm

Malibu Storm

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West Coast siblings Dana, Lauren, and Michael are Malibu Storm -- an obvious nod at their questionable country roots -- a young, photogenic, but seasoned threesome who harmonize, pick, and bow like a gang of orphans found wandering along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Their self-titled debut is a calculated and radio-ready bullet aimed at fans of the Dixie Chicks and Alison Krauss that feels about as pure as a snow globe in a Nashville gift shop. The sisters, who used to perform as the Shankman Twins, croon and growl with the effortless confidence of true doppelgängers trying to outdo each other, making songs like "Old Hickory Lake" impossible not to smile along with. However, it's their cover of Def Leppard's "Photograph" that's sure to receive the most attention -- it shouldn't work, but it's awfully hard to recall the original once they start riffing on the chorus harmonies. While their penchant for pop, good looks, and enviable chops has drawn numerous comparisons to fellow country sprouts Nickel Creek, they lack the songwriting skills and imaginative arrangements that make that band so compelling. With every track -- besides an instrumental about the family cat -- written and played by Nashville's best, it's hard to extract the trio's true voice out of the machine. It would be unfair to call them tools, but with the slew of young and attractive artists being pulled from the country gene pool, it's only a matter of time before Malibu Storm either grow out of the "hitmaking" mindset and blaze their own trail, or decide to get behind the board and orchestrate it for the next generation.

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