On Sale

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Those who discovered Shellito with 2001's Ingredients would do well to go back and acquire On Sale, the Philadelphia group's debut album of 1997. Although Ingredients is slightly stronger, On Sale is still a fairly promising debut -- one that finds leader Mike Shellito using influences from different eras to his creative advantage. This CD, like Ingredients, has one foot in '90s alternative pop/rock and the other in the classic guitar pop of the late '60s and early '70s (especially the Byrds and Simon & Garfunkel). It's an appealing combination, and not an illogical one. Just as a neo-soulstress like Mary J. Blige can claim both hip-hop and Chaka Khan as influences, there is no reason why Mike Shellito cannot be affected by '90s alternative pop/rock as well as the Byrds and Simon & Garfunkel. In other words, he sees no reason why an artist cannot be inspired by music from different eras. Mike Shellito also sees no reason why a vocalist has to scream his head off to get your attention; he favors a hushed and relaxed style of singing and, like Ingredients, On Sale is an album that thrives on subtlety and restraint. You will have to look elsewhere if you want forcefulness for the sake of forcefulness, because you won't find it on tunes like "Loraine" and "Wednesday." What you will find is an admirable tunefulness and an attractive sense of melody on the part of Mike Shellito, who takes a very hand-on approach -- in addition to providing all of the lead vocals and writing all of the material, he serves as producer and engineer. Ingredients would be a better introduction to Mike Shellito's group, but On Sale also has a lot going for it and is an likable, if imperfect, debut.

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