Virtually Nowhere The Passerbyes I put the disk in, punched the 'play' button and was immediately possessed by the spirits of rock'n'roll past, present and (dare I say?) future. I was sure I heard Guided by Voices. The Beatles, Neil Young, The Kinks, early Rolling Stones? They were all definitely in there somewhere. There was Graham Parker meeting Dylan, and they both tipped their hats to Pavement. But don't get me wrong. Virtually Nowhere is no throwaway anthological hodgepodge. It's more like a gourmet smorgasbord - the highly original product of an unlikely collection of seasoned music veterans spending several years blending rock, pop, folk, progressive/alternative and psychedelia in a big home-studio mixing bowl, then dishing up a dozen delicious tunes. The vocals are strong, the harmonies are refreshing and the musicianship is top notch. In fact, most of the cream of Columbia, South Carolina's indie rock crop appears on this album - some of them in the spotlight, others in well-timed cameo roles - and that's part of this album's irresistible appeal. And while homage to the greats is paid in almost every one, make no mistake; the songs on Virtually Nowhere are copies of no one. Some are feisty and up, some are slower and thoughtful and the rest are somewhere in between. What they all share is a hook-driven infectiousness that will have you singing along after the first listen or two. Many of the songs on Virtually Nowhere first took shape one winter a few years back while Passerbyes front man Hugh Etheredge was living in exile in Vermont. (Note to Phish fans: don't get excited. This is not a jam record. In fact, if you like Phish, you probably won't like The Passerbyes.) Those, together with some pre-Vermont Atlanta compositions and a handful written in Columbia, came to life in sessions that spanned more than six months. 'We set out to record this project as a solo album, bringing in 'specialists' when we thought we needed a certain sound or style,' says Etheredge. 'But as the sessions progressed, we really started to feel - and play - like a band.' Enough like a band, in fact, that The Passerbyes are already back in that home studio recording demos and guide tracks for their next CD. So my suggestion is straightforward: get Virtually Nowhere. Treat yourself to a hearty helping of truly tasty, well-crafted pop/rock music. Drink in some of the best guitar licks and bass riffs you've heard in years. And relish the side dishes that make this such a satisfying meal, like the mandolins and banjo on 'Monumental Task', trumpets on 'The Ship that Sunk' and backwards guitars that add an exotic spice when you least expect it. Savor it.