Haven -  Between The Senses Haven
Between the Senses

Haven's debut has been a long time in the making.

The English band's lead singer and guitarist met in a record store five years ago when they were both reaching for the same rare disc, and it wasn't long before they were making music together Instead of fighting over it (they actually didn't fight too hard they went in halves on buying that Quicksilver Messenger Service album).

Their band attracted the attention of Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr a couple of years ago and they released an EP in 2001 with his help, the tracks of which would go on to form the core of their debut album, Between the Senses. It was released in England earlier this year, and now is available stateside.

If you're looking for an album filled with catchy pop hits, skip this review and read on. Haven is not a band looking for the three-minute Top of the Pops single. Between the Senses is a long, jangly, jammy affair with nods to early U2 and latter day Radiohead.

It's the kind of album that on a glancing listen can sound endless and monotonous. But on subsequent plays, it slowly reveals its depth. You have to be in the right mood to listen to Between the Senses ready to lie back, watch the clouds swirl overhead and let the cycling bass- and airy guitar-work transport you to another place. This is head-nodding fare, not foot-stomping work.

The album opens with one of its most accessible tracks, "Let it Live," which actually is reminiscent of Live in its guitar attack, throbbing bassline and Briggs' emphatic vocals. "Say Something" probably comes the closest to pop single-hood, with a chimey guitar flair and sing-song chorus.

Melancholy, moody and often stirring, this is an album to lose yourself in.

Haven will play Chicago's Elbo Room tomorrow night.


BBMak - Into Your Head BBMak
Into Your Head

With their sophomore release, the British trio BBMak distances themselves from the pack of harmony "boy bands," like NSYNC and Backstreet Boys, and show themselves as world class songwriters, as well as singers. Unlike most of their boy band peers, BBMak actually writes and plays their songs, as well as performing crystal pure, tight three-part harmonies. Call them England's answer to Hanson.

Into Your Head opens with the unstoppable "Out of My Heart" and bops through nine more picture perfect pop tracks that range in style from Beatlemania to Eagles campfire strumming. On "Get You Through the Night," they even unapologetically try on the style of the Goo Goo Dolls and they wear it well.

While most of the album is chimey, happy summer beach fodder, the boys offer regret in the "been caught cheating" anthem "After All Is Said and Done," and mourn about girls on a different plane in "Out of Reach." And in "Sympathy," they sing of being left behind.

There's nothing groundbreaking about BBMak's pop ditties, but they do know their way around a catchy hook, even if it's all been done before. If you've got a sweet-tooth, this'll fill your appetite.