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Making their only shot count

By Publicists

Self-released: 2009

This review first appeared in Turbula in July 2009.

The rich combination of realized musical vision and tantalizing promise for the future on the debut from San Diego's Publicists makes listening to the stellar pop music contained on "Stories" a little sad – for not only is it the band's first album, but it will also be its last. Lead singer and guitarist Ryan Johnson is moving to Cincinnnati to attend grad school, meaning the band has only a few shows left before it breaks up.

Which is a pity, because the sparkling melodies, the lush harmonies and Johnson's warm and distinctive vocals add up to make "Stories" one of the best pop albums to come out of San Diego in recent memory – put the band alongside This Holiday Life, the Modlins and Dynamite Walls as among the region's very best power-pop combos.

The title track is an absolutely flawless song – soaring vocals (bassist Mark Anderson provides harmony vocals) atop a percolating beat (provided by Anderson and drummer Brad Filip) that slowly builds to a lovely chorus. The opening track, "Goodbye, Lover," is an immediately accessible light rocker in the vein of classic Supertramp. And the third song, "I'll Never Tell," is another strong pop-rock tune – catchy melody, tight arrangement, Johnson's singing giving it a warm familiarity.

The other five songs aren't quite as good as the opening three tracks, but those first three are so very good that the good will they generate provides a glow that illuminates the entire album.