Everything Starts Where It Ends (The Militia Group)

Major labels are worse decision-makers than the Bush administration, but Columbia looks dumber than most for dropping Lovedrug just before the release of its sophomore album.

Everything Starts Where It Ends is the type of mass-appeal rock record that major labels used to kill for. From the opener "Happy Apple Poison," Lovedrug blasts off with indelible hooks and stadium-sized choruses, enhanced by such progressive flourishes as layered vocals, strings, and piano. When the band tones it down for straightforward melodic rock on "Bleed Together" and "Ghost by Your Side," the results are equally impressive. Ballads like "Thieving" showcase singer Michael Shepard's lovelorn croon. Everything Starts Where It Ends proves why Lovedrug is not only coming into its own, but taking the first steps toward greatness.

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