The Alternate Routes take the road most traveled with "Good and Reckless and True," a wholly conventional rock album.
Yet it would be wrong to simply dismiss the Bridgeport, Conn., group as bland. Instead, the Alternate Routes project an empathetic nature with the non confrontational sound and light philosophy of "Good and Reckless and True." The familiar strains and time-tested structure are even mildly infectious.
Call it "comfort rock."
Opening track "Ordinary" makes an apt (and aptly titled) introduction to the Alternate Routes' method. At first the song seems like little more than a mundane, albeit heartfelt, singer-songwriter ditty showcasing frontman Tim Warren. But it subtly builds until the listener is sucked into its sweeping rock spectacle, which is keenly capped off with a poignantly quiet close.
Other tracks have similar surprising impact, rising out of deceptively routine arrangements. There's the blues-kissed, waltzing slow cut "Hollywood" with its jabbing punch line, "It's hard to believe you can find what you're looking for anymore." Also, Warren dials down his nasal tendencies to deliver some seductive rock on "Going Home With You," and the hazy "California" recalls 1970s folk.
The band also makes a point of proving its range - plugging into a blustery chorus during the electric spree of "Are You Lonely?" and following that track with the rambling, piano-based ballad "The Black and the White." But those songs don't have any emotional resonance; they're just musical exercises.
Actually it's a challenge to find anything exceptional on "Good and Reckless and True," which essentially sounds like a deja vu collection of music for the Everyman.
However, that commoner appeal helped get the band's music on the MTV shows "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills," so it must be a substantial asset.
"Good and Reckless and True" is released by Vanguard.
Rating: 3 (out of possible five)