The Stills 

Without Feathers

On Without Feathers, the Stills play melodic rock tethered by pianos and guitars. It diverges from the band's 2003 debut, Logic Will Break Your Heart, an album rooted in the dance-rock rhythms popular at the time. As that trend recedes, lead vocalist David Hamelin emerges as the Stills' primary asset and his winsome voice connects the two recordings. On "She's Walking Out" he sings, "She's -- walk -- ing -- out on him," dipping his voice up and down the vocal scales, and he easily glides around cryptic lines.

Meanwhile, the Stills aim for the great rock middle ground, drawing out not-quite-hard-rock anthems. The results are pretty and consistently charming, but also slight and anonymous because the group doesn't carry enough dramatic weight to implant its anthems into your memory. Even as it (and several side musicians) tunes up the guitars into an electric wail on tracks like "Oh Shoplifter," its harmonies seem too collegial and winning to truly challenge or engage. 3 stars.

The Stills play Mon., June 5, at the Loft with Rogue Wave.


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