Cartel hasn't done anything underhanded or illegal, as its name might imply. The Atlanta-based quintet has avoided all misdemeanors by trekking down the decidedly less wanton path of guitar-driven rock with an underlying pop-punk spirit. Singer Will Pugh's vocal delivery commands a listen and bolsters the band's precise and well-executed instrumentation, which overflows with plenty of crunchy stops and starts and flavorful guitar parts weaving in and out of vibrant backing vocals and compelling piano runs. Pugh and company's strongest selling point is the nine-and-a-half-minute epic "A," which successfully polishes a heightened sense of musicality to a glimmering sheen. The act's debut full-length,


-- which is scheduled to be released on the same day Cartel stops by Rock Island -- will put a pleasant grin on the face of modern rock's oft-bored guardian angel.

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