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Rich Hayes, John Ward, and Tim Smith wanted to be pop stars. They were shoe-gazing guys in Smiths T-shirts waiting around for dreamy pop moments and plotting their own arrival. The plan would later materialize as Villa Rosie, but the guys were missing one crucial element—a woman. They advertised: “You: Female Popster. Us: Lonely Without You.”

“It was like a bad rock ‘n’ roll movie, with us screening all these people who just didn’t fit,” says Hayes. Then they met Judy Ferrel, just in from Ohio. “When Judy came along, it was one of those classic moments,” Hayes says. “We were like, ‘This is it.’” The band’s pop aspirations shine brightly on Everybody Rides, the band’s debut album from its own label, Pure Blend Records. It’s a record full of seamless guitar-pop gems and jangly melodies, backed with soothing washes of sound effects. And the guys were right about Ferrel; on “Bright Girl,” the opening track, her sugary delivery of lines like “It’s a cruel, cruel world but she’s a bright, bright girl” sets the band spinning. WHFS now has “Bright Girl” in rotation, and the band’s CD release party in February drew a near-capacity crowd at the Black Cat. “We’ve got a nice following now, but I don’t know that we’re pop stars just yet,” jokes Ferrel. Maybe another female popster would do the trick? “I don’t think that we could have more than one girl in the band,” she says. “I think maybe I’m enough for them.” (CB)