THE A-SIDES: Silver Storms [Vagrant]

A sweet swell of strings is followed by the peripatetic patter of percussion: The E Street Band gets ready to rumble anew in Jungleland, perhaps, or Spiritualized prepares yet another space-age symphony? Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in … Philadelphia, where local heroes the A-Sides have seeded their musical cloudlings to yield the utterly cleansing Silver Storms, produced by Brian McTear (Bitter Bitter Weeks, matt pond PA). The opening, strings-laden title track gives way to “Always In Trouble,” duly setting the album’s tone by ushering in a grandiose wave of chiming guitars, surging organ and impassioned vocals. Soon enough, you’re awash in the bouncy “We’re The Trees” (a top-down anthem for summer lovers everywhere), the truth-in-titling “Cinematic” (which gingerly suggests Wilco gone shoegaze) and the neo-baroque “Great American Novelist” (a suite for strings, keys and Who-styled power chords). The A-Sides have moved beyond their early-’60s/Beach Boys sound to ply a brand of dream pop that hearkens directly back to the great guitar groups of the ’80s college-rock era: the Feelies, R.E.M., Dumptruck, et al. Rather than wave their record collections in our faces, however, these five young men generate an infectious level of energy that makes the old seem new and fresh again. []

—Fred Mills