So I picked up this disc to review out of a stack of great prospects because my friend from Reno likes the band, and it’s her birthday on Sunday. I figured to kill two birds: Review a good album and then give it to her as a gift. Well, my friend is really quite hip, with taste that is refined and fun. After listening to this album the first time and being unimpressed, I decided to give it another spin because I knew if she likes these melodic rockers/cowpokes, there must be something more I was overlooking.

Turns out, Satellite Rides is one of those grow-on-you platters, like an infectious Cars song. Radio-friendly it certainly is, with a few vocal winks to Coldplay. But it’s black licorice bubble gum pop and at its best has a twangy, finger-pickin’ Kinks vibe. About half of the album is generic gen-X rock, but the other half is catchy, romantic sing-a-longs with a touch of desert flavor. “Up the Devil’s Pay” is a pack-up-my-bags-and-go ditty with some odd harmonies that sounds like a jilted man howling at the moon. It’s sweet and deserves a listen. Please, make my friend happy.