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Ashley Stove

After almost a decade of struggling through relative obscurity and countless lineup adjustments, Raleigh, North Carolina's Ashley Stove have developed into a solid, agreeable guitar-pop band. Their sunny sound's not overly ambitious, which is fine; sometimes all you really want to do is go to the park and play Frisbee and perhaps drink a beer or two, and this is music that suits such desires nicely. The band's songs range from fuzzy Built To Spill-style driving rockers to sweet-as-the-blue-sky bop-doo-wop pop songs. Mike Kenlan and founding member Ben Barwick's dusty golden guitars sidle past each other while Barwick harmonizes earnestly with wife and bass player Jennifer Barwick (by the way, the couple supports Mac McCaughan in his Portastatic project). It's all sorta sloppy in an unstudied way, but catchily well put together. The pop-punk rave-up "Don't Wreck Your Car" and the bouncy, goofy "Amen Grasshopper" both come from the Ashley Stone's fourth LP (and first without band co-founder Matt Brown), All Summer Long, which came out in 2001. Previous releases include Four Finger Moon (1995), Into the Sun (1997), and New Scars (1999).