Kory & The Fireflies

Radiate

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Radiate, the second release from Sioux Falls, SD's Kory & the Fireflies, represents a technical (if not artistic) gain for the Midwestern rockers. With its 11 tracks of post-Mellencamp traditional rock, the wholesome good times and best girls celebrated on this 1999 release -- for Gateway computer mogul Norm Waitt's Samson Music label -- are easily superior to those on the group's 1995 debut, Sparks Fly. Sounding something like mid-'80s R.E.M. on Prozac, Radiate's opener, the standout "Sometimes," is downright modern compared to the rest of the album's squishy MOR. Singer/guitarist Kory Van Sickle has a voice that lacks the polish and style of his Brad Pitt looks, but he approaches his vocal duties with enthusiasm, and deserves credit for only teetering on the hokey edge of new country oblivion. Hardly a virtuoso himself, Van Sickle's bandmates also lack the instrumental prowess to elevate Radiate beyond the hometown charts. A few fans of Hootie & the Blowfish might enjoy this record, but Kory & the Fireflies can't touch the sonic fluidity, or the songwriting expertise captured on most major label offerings within this band's nondescript musical genre.

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