When I was in college, the mid-Missouri music scene was centered on the town of Columbia, home of the University of Missouri. Countless mediocre college rock bands that weren't good enough to book clubs in Kansas City or St. Louis rotated playing the handful of bars and clubs around the region. There were, however, a couple of bands that seemed fated to break out of the area, chiefly Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, creators of lush pop that feels like a musical hug from a cuddly baby seal. Their latest album, Pershing, is a catchy testament to what can still be accomplished with tight hooks, cushy backing vocals, and good lyrics. It resonates with pep and purpose, and is almost addictively listenable. I do admit part of my enjoyment of SSLYBY is nostalgia-based: Back in my low-power college-radio days at KCOU, I filled Missouri's airwaves in the middle of the night with these boys from Springfield as they were just beginning to gain regional popularity. Even though they're not a household name yet, it's nice to see them getting gushing reviews, touring nationally, and no longer relying on sleepy DJs spinning their records on tiny stations in their home state. With Ha Ha Tonka and Ice Palace.
Sat., May 24, 8 p.m., 2008