"There's a hole in the soul of rock and roll!" That's how The Cartridge Family ends Shine Like a Bottle, its sophomore album, clamoring that phrase again and again while backed by a sound that splits the difference between both Heartbreakers. Before you reach that damning denouement, though, you'll be attending a pair of parties, both with a Replacements undercurrent: First is opener "Party at My House," which careens like Ian McLagan crashing a Tim session. Later is "When You Get to Heaven," which describes a Hendrix-and-Hank celestial gathering and plays out like the work of a rock band that likes country music but doesn't belabor the point. Think "If Only You Were Lonely."
While we're talking about a party at The Cartridge Family pad, the rest of the tunes soundtracking Shine Like a Bottle are pretty great, too. In fact, there's only one misstep in the 11 songs collected here: "Ally," located at Shine's center, is dragged down by over-the-top vocals and a too-broad riff, coming off in this otherwise humbly rocking setting like a hammy lead actor surrounded by a bunch of skilled character actors. The band recovers quickly with the gliding, even poppy "Alone, I'm a Loser." It's The Cartridge Family as Gin Blossoms, and it's a smash. Other highlights are the drunk-and-dysfunctional relationship ode "Do You Remember Me?," with Greg Rice's keyboards providing the question mark (and the Mysterians?) on the chorus.
On album cap "American West," The Cartridge Family suggests you "Pray the Lord your soul to keep." While you're at it, pray for an invite to the next earthbound swingin' party thrown by these guys: You can witness them fixing the hole in the soul.
The Cartridge Family celebrates the release of Shine Like a Bottle at Slim's on Friday, Nov. 2. The music starts at 10 p.m., and the cost is $3. And at 6 p.m. that day, the band will play an in-store set at Schoolkids Records in Raleigh.