Citizens Here and Abroad

Waving, Not Drowning

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If the Go-Go's went for a more underground edge, they'd find a song like "In the Dark" from the group Citizens Here and Abroad to be their "Stairway to Heaven." Oozing with '60s vocal harmonies and nearly cosmic guitars, it all swims in a very catchy mix of new pop. There's so much to this 11-song disc that one needs multiple sittings to grasp the intense and pretty melodies that are drifting -- and sometimes plowing -- through the elegant and very tight playing. The packaging is stunning, featuring colorful artwork on the cover and dozens of small (less than one-inch) photos inside the CD cover. It reflects the music inside with precision missing in many an album jacket. "The Neighbors Called the Police" is a highlight, spooky Ventures-style guitar that drifts off into a thicker and more exotic collection of musical flavorings and vocals. Very cool, and though one of the longest songs on the disc, it stops rather abruptly and leaves you wanting more. Check out the power and authority on "Accelerator," launching into immediate chaos the way the Rolling Stones' "Sway" from Sticky Fingers just attacked you with its instant blitz. "Sometimes My Head Bleeds" also drips sounds and vibrations that aren't your typical "let's follow Nirvana and the Pixies" routines. Chris Groves' keyboards and vocals add much, and his bells ring out with charm, solitary and without the Phil Spector bombast. There are some thumpa thumpa rhythms the Cars recycled and interesting lyrics that hold your attention with the tremendous sounds that build up as if out of nowhere. Daniel Lowrie's guitar works so well with singer Adrienne Robillard, complementing and not getting in the way, adding a texture that builds a wall of '60s sounds for the new millennium. Waving, Not Drowning is most impressive with its variety of sounds embracing the soft-spoken vocals -- this is not your parent's San Franciscan rock & roll.

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