There’s no denying the palatability of Santa Barbara’s Tommy & the High Pilots. Since forming in 2008, lead singer Tommy Cantillon and his ’mates have carried their pop flag loudly and proudly, drawing comparisons to everyone from Paul Simon to Lifehouse. On their latest EP, American Riviera, the foursome seems dead set on pushing the limits of fans’ expectations and comes away with six tracks’ worth of spirited and anthemic forays into new territory. The title track harkens back to past, guitar-driven Pilots ventures, but gets colored by a bombastic mix of horns and drums; “The Limit” takes subtle cues from early Kings of Leon, aided by Cantillon’s affecting and powerful yelps. Still, it’s the record-closing “Carried by You” that provides the biggest risk and reward here. Against a twangy wall of acoustic guitar, banjo plucks, and brushed drums, the band embraces their folksier side and succeeds in mucking up their squeaky-clean image in a way that sounds as organic as it feels. Visit or to purchase.


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