The Tragic Thrills
are a pop-ready rock group from San Diego, CA. Despite the dire-sounding name, it's almost as if the sunshine has infiltrated the band. Lead man and songwriter Zach Porter's voice bubbles and soars over acoustic guitar, happy piano, and a chorus of shouts and "heys." Songs on their debut album are honest bits of Porter's life that he's deigned to share with us, with darker motifs running just under the poppy surface: introspection, confession, deep questions -- it's all there if you dig past the sunny construction of the songs. They've come a long way from their previous venture, Allstar Weekend, which had heavy ties to Disney Channel (though they've kept some of the rabid fans, obviously). The Tragic Thrills' tunes are crafted as anthems, revving up the listener, whether you're at the live show or just indulging in the band's heady pop while you ride BART to work. You may catch yourself unknowingly singing along. Fans of Imagine Dragons might immediately notice some comparable notes, but the Tragic Thrills are much more than just another alternative, folk-influenced rock band. They've got strong songwriting to fall back on, and lots of pop training -- you can hear shades of Fleetwood Mac throughout. Over the past few years of touring, they've culled together quite a fan base because, live, the band is inspiring, and always spot on -- it's like watching the record come to life.