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Glasvegas

Opening at No. 2 on Britain's charts in September, Glasvegas' debut CD, released in the United States last month, is an undeniably addictive blast of classic Scottish rock. Backed by a strong push from mega-label Columbia, the band is quickly winning fans on both sides of the pond.

Led by songwriter, lead vocalist and former pro soccer player James Allan, the Glasgow-based quartet echoes the sound and style of fellow countrymen such as the Jesus and Mary Chain and Big Country. Glasvegas' arresting wall of sound envelopes you in waves of heavy reverb. Their soaring anthems, with invariably catchy choruses, are rousing and occasionally inspiring.

The disc's unifying feature is Allan's passionate vocals, delivered in a deliciously thick Scottish burr. His sturdy and agile range is reminiscent of a young Elvis Costello, though hints of American doo-wop and even a dash of Southside Johnny Lyon can be heard in his confident and soulful renderings.

Sadly, comparisons to Costello end with Allan's lyrics and song concepts. Though an honest reflection of his working-class roots, Allan's thoughts on absentee fathers, schoolyard bullies, cheatin' hearts and football are less than brilliant. He also has a penchant for lifting well-traveled lines such as "liar, liar, pants on fire."

Thankfully, good, sweet and strong music like this doesn't need great poetry behind it. In its initial outing, Glasvegas patches over any miscues with its spirited commitment. The disc's driving melodies are the perfect kickoff for a night of several pints and glorious heartache--hopefully followed by a thrashing of Manchester United.

More by Rick Schwartz

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