Ashley Stove All Summer Long

It must be spring if there's a new album from Raleigh, NC pop band Ashley Stove; their last effort, New Scars, arrived at exactly this time in '99, prompting thrown-open windows and thoughts of spring. The band chimes out some bah-bah pop, yet still muscular enough to avoid being twee; they avoid the trippy traps of trendy electronics and rely on their skills as songwriters and players (honed in part as players in Merge/Superchunker Mac McCaughan's side band Portastatic). It's almost criminal that such straightforward rock seems charmingly retro, but no matter - Ashley Stove manage to wave this flag without being defined by it. (Merge)