Beagle Ranch Starcrossed

As part of Calgary's Citrus Park in the early '90s, Stephen Bandola had his initial dalliance with success. These days, however, he's going it alone under the guise of the Beagle Ranch, having played most of the instruments on Starcrossed. The album was actually recorded between 1997 and 1999, but it took an additional couple of years before it was finally released due to financial restraints. Yet that delay may have worked to their advantage, because in that time the world has become more accepting of melodic pop again and more doors are open than closed. Fortunately, the songs don't sound dated at all - good pop music has always had a timeless quality. The band cites comparisons to the Lilac Time and even talk about the influence of the Lightning Seeds, although the chiming guitars evoke more memories of the Byrds than anything else. With goals in mind that can only be achieved with brevity, Bandola goes about his business quickly and with a focus that gives the songs a real urgency. And with nine songs in 25 minutes, Starcrossed never outstays its welcome. (Blue Star)