Hightone Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: George Agnos


The music scene for the second half of the nineties has belonged to the women, what with the emergence of artists like Celine Dion, Brandy, Sheryl Crow, Jewel, and Lauryn Hill. (I could mention the Spice Girls, but I blinked and they were gone.) Thanks to this emergence, we are getting plenty of female artists coming onto the scene, and I say bring them on!

Enter Kelley Ryan and her group the Astropuppees. Their new CD, Pet, is an energetic piece of pop-rock. If this is what you are looking for, then you will be immediately sucked into the first song called "15 Seconds". This song recalls a rocking Go-Go's tune, but with better guitar playing. I like the way Ryan makes her guitar sound a keyboard on the instrumental break.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The second song slows the tempo a bit for "Angelica" which adds a harmonica to the mix for a slight folky sound. But we are back to a full rock sound on the infectious "Woo Hoo Hoo". However, the catchiness of this track hides the cynicism in the lyrics.

The rest of Pet follows a similar pattern of solid-rockers and midtempo folk-rockers. Bassist Maureen Serrao takes the vocals on the ballad "Galaxy", which she co-wrote with Ryan, showing that the band has two capable vocalists.

Ryan and Serrao provide nice harmonies on "Crowded House", a song written by top-notch songwriter Marshall Crenshaw (along with LeRoy Preston), that is certainly a highlight on Pet.

Ryan produced Pet, and I do not know if she has other producing credits, but she certainly does a sterling job, getting some interesting guitar sounds, especially on "Olive 5", and a crisp sound out of drummer John Oreshnick throughout the CD. I would have guessed that someone like veteran producer Don Dixon (who appears occasionally on the CD) produced this.

Pet does run out of steam toward the end. "Any Other Day" and "It's Alright" sound like weaker versions of earlier songs. A flash of punk called "Speed Walking College Girls" will wake up the listener, but it is just filler. And while "Sleep" is sonically interesting, I was hoping it would be a stronger song lyrically.

The Astropuppees have more than a few potential hits on Pet as there are plenty of appealing, thoughtful songs here. It will be interesting to hear what this band will come up with next, as Ryan continues to develop as a songwriter. Fans of Sheryl Crow (as well as any pop rock fans) should really like this CD.

Rating: B+

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© 1999 George Agnos and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Hightone Records, and is used for informational purposes only.