Rubyhorse Rise

Strong radio-friendly fodder that beckons to the better elements of Hothouse Flowers and Collective Soul, this Irish quintet's major-label debut also draws heavily from the new wave of Britpop - Coldplay comes most readily to mind - to propel it along, although with a harder-edged North American sensibility. This is the kind of stuff that if I were forced to listen to mainstream radio and heard this I most likely wouldn't turn off. Solidly melodic and obsessively grandiose, this band's delivery is not original, but it is at least sincere in its imitation. Strewn here and there throughout the recording are lyrical and musical snippets of U2, Bob Marley and the aforementioned Coldplay (not to mention the Wonder Stuff lyric ripped off for the band's name) that the attentive listener will catch and no doubt get a little smile from. A nice coup was getting ex-Beatle George Harrison to play slide on "Punchdrunk." File this one under guilty pleasures. (Island)