album reviews

My Favorite Highway
How to Call a Bluff
Highway Robbery Records (2008)

My Favorite Highway is based locally, but its influences certainly aren't: This quartet has the emo-punk sensibilities of Fall Out Boy paired with the catchy pop songwriting of Fountains of Wayne -- not to mention an album title that evokes the Fray's ubiquitous single "How to Save a Life."

Even with such lofty idols, My Favorite Highway hits its mark more often than not. "Say So" has all the components of great power-punk singles: a memorable chorus, energetic chords and swoony descriptions of young love ("It's like she takes me up to ten/But she leaves me at eleven"). The underlying piano lines on "The Chase" echo singer Dave Cook's plaintive vocals, while the lively singalong choruses on "Simple Life" capture the desire to avoid the aimlessness of one's early 20s.

"How to Call a Bluff" is a debut album with all the polish and pop hooks of the band's more seasoned counterparts. The group never admits what road inspired its name, but it's almost certain that their favorite highway will be whichever one takes them to the national stage fastest.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 19 December 2008, Page WE15
.: How to Call a Bluff on