Critic's Choice

Plastic Parachute

Not as flimsy or lightweight as its name might suggest, Plastic Parachute specializes in catchy pop rock with a mainstream sound built for radio. Driven by the girlishly extroverted vocals of frontwoman Deb Hooks and the crunchy guitar of Ricky Brewer (the pair moved to Denver from Nashville, where they once performed as an acoustic duo), the outfit rounds out its sonic assault with bassist Shaun Nelson and drummer Nic Woods. A 2004 Westword Music Showcase nominee, Plastic Parachute infuses its pop ambitions with romantic exuberance, producing a sugar-induced rush that approximates a teenaged Gwen Stefani fronting Jimmy Eat World -- that is, if Gwen sang about tagging Ferris wheels or how snotty rich kids can be. Hear for yourself Thursday, June 17, when Hooks and company headline Herman's Hideaway with Chronophonic, Young Urban Misfits and Crazed Individuals. Then on Saturday, June 19, the 'chute drops onto the east stage of the Highlands Festival during a late-afternoon, all-ages performance in support of last October's self-titled debut. Mastered by engineer Ronan Chris Murphy (who has helmed everything from new-wave and world-beat projects to King Crimson remixes), the energetic full-length should make the choice between paper and plastic a no-brainer.

 
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