NYC's Pillcrushers cite big-name rockers — the Beatles, the Stones, Nirvana — and important cult heroes — the Velvet Underground, Wilco, Badfinger — as the main influences on their mid-'60s and early-'70s pop-inspired sound. They tell no lies. But this isn't just a group with a groovy record collection. Singer Greg Beshers, who's performed with Velvets drummer Moe Tucker and current singer-songwriters Mary McBride and Mark Bacino, is a skilled pop craftsman who transforms his avid love for pop's past with his natural knack for multi-tracked harmonies and electric guitars. (Big Star might be the hip reference, but there's enough Roy Thomas Baker and Boston to please radio programmers).
"Something Right" sways with the alt-country authority of today's Brooklyn cowboys but Beshers doesn't usually stray west, instead relying on the spirited groove of, say, Ben Folds without the tongue planted as deeply in cheek, as he searches for timeless melodies ("Beautiful Release"). It's a tough row to hoe and sometimes the quest settles into blandness (the generic mid-tempo Americana anthem "Time to Run"). Yet with its whine toward California, the album's sprightly opener "Is It True" deserves a spot on The O.C. and a track as lovingly Beatles-esque as "All of the Time" would spike up the listening on what's left of modern rock radio.