JUST A FEW years ago, self-contained bands were a rarity in country music, but Alabama's string of "Entertainer of the Year" awards from the Country Music Association changed all that.
Sawyer Brown, a Star Search champion and just this past Monday a winner of the Horizon award from the Country Music Association, is a self-contained quintet clearly in Alabama's pop-country mold. The Nashville band broke through last year with the number-one single, "Step That Step," and now is back with its follow-up album, "Shakin'."
It's a likable effort, though Sawyer Brown tilts even further toward pop than Alabama. The only way you can tell it's a country record is that these bright, lightweight rock-pop arrangements have gone out of fashion everywhere but Nashville. All 10 songs -- half of them written by producer Randy Scruggs and lead singer Mark Miller -- boast a jingly pop melody and a simple, clever lyric hook. Marshall Chatman's strutting rocker, "Betty's Bein' Bad," shows some originality; otherwise, these tunes are hard to resist while they're playing and hard to remember once they're done.
SAWYER BROWN -- "Shakin'" (Capitol ST-12438); appearing Saturday with Ronnie McDowell and Whiskey Creek at Fairfax High School.