Steel Breeze, blowing in from Sacramento, is much lighter than its name implies. In fact, the sextet dishes up a thoroughly likable mix of the Cars' techno-pop instrumentals and Styx's soaring vocal lines. It's a sound developed over years of dues-paying as a Top-40 cover band. Steel Breeze's uncommonly tight and technically proficient sound began out of necessity and reached fruition in bright little popscapes like the bouncy "You Don't Want Me Anymore," a calculated radio hit and career-breaker if ever there was one.
The boys expound on adolescent agonies without ever slipping into rock's favored misogynous zone, even on a pop boogie like "Who's Gonna Love You Tonight?" Ric Jacob's vocals are straight-on, shepherded by Waylin Carpenter's alternately sparkling and stinging guitar figures and Rod Toner's wavish keyboard washes, especially evident on "I Think About You" and "All I Ever Want to Do." The one stiff is an attempted drag-down reggae cut ("Street Talkin' "), but most of the album is highly listenable -- not earth-shaking but warmly bone-rattling. R.H. ON RECORD, ON STAGE THE ALBUM STEEL BREEZE -- Steel Breeze (RCA AFL1-4424). THE SHOW STEEL BREEZE, Sunday at 8 and 11 at the Bayou.