Skewed pop with art/rock sensibilities seems to be the norm these days with folks like Islands and French Kicks making decent money finding new ways to recycle those Talking Heads riffs. But Cincinnati's Pomegranates ups the originality and fey ante considerably on Everybody, Come Outside!, the band's lovable sophomore effort.

By adding a bit of an unexpected Afro-pop influence into the mix, these four painfully white, Midwestern boys have found something almost new under the sun. Nowhere is this more evident than on the new album's third cut, "This Land Used to Be My Land, But Now I Hate This Land." Isaac Karns' economical guitar style propels the song along as Joey Cook loudly expresses his awkward concerns. Cook's high falsetto can be a bit off-putting, but there's no denying his chutzpah.

The rest of the effort follows suit as the band rocks as hard as they can on "The Southern Ocean," but gets back to the Afro-beat with the sensational "Svaatsi Uutsi." Somewhere both Brian Eno and King Sunny Ade are smiling as Pomegranates parlays a nerdy interest of one style into a captivating take on another. This is the kind of brainy pop that pops up in places like Ohio, places where the kids just don't have anything better to do.

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Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers