Somewhere between Grandaddy and the Eagles, between the new school Northern California rock sound and the old school Southern California rock sound, lies Jackpot. So who are these guys? You may know singer and guitar player Rusty Miller from his stint playing guitar for Cake (that's him on their big number, 1998's "Never There"). Apparently Miller has substantial songwriting chops of his own; you will not be able to keep yourself from singing along to "Pennies", a collection of stray slack hooks laid over a driving snare beat that stays just shy of sugary pop. "Sideways" follows a similar melody-driven formula to arrive at a less aggressive pop number that is the stuff of chart success. The number, packing slightly more angst, saunters along a straightforward beat with the same sort of road-trip-home melancholy of the Smashing Pumpkins' "1979".
The quartet's slick rock has earned it raves in rags including the New York Times, though sometimes it is kind of hard to hear what all the fuss is about. Sure, the album's high points are pretty high, but about half of the songs struggle for real estate in your short-term memory. Still, Shiny Things has enough hits to make it commercially viable, almost guaranteeing that Jackpot will have more shots at creating the perfect pop album.