Anyone who believes in fate should take note of rock band Golden Ticket. Not because the group's recent release Imaginary Stars was created out of some mystical convergence, but because it was not. The completion of Imaginary Stars, Golden Ticket's first full-length project in the group's five-year pilgrimage, proves once again the age-old phrase that hard work and dedication pays off. Featuring lead vocalist Raymy, supported by guitarists Andrew Morrison and Russell McCabe, bassist Bruce Yolken and drummer Ted Stauf, Golden Ticket is quick to point out that they are not leaving anything to chance. Anyone who knows the band can attest to the guys' sheer dedication. Mere geographical location alone would have kept many other bands from getting this far, as the members are spread from Orange County to the High Deserts of California. However, this is no ordinary band. From the craft of the writing to the quality of the production and packaging of Imaginary Stars, it is easy to see that these guys are serious about what they do. The title 'Imagainary Stars' refers to the sea of hopefuls that make up Hollywood's population. From actor/waiters to musician/fast food employees, the Hollywood experience is the tension between the dream and reality. Confident that they could turn out material every bit as substantial as radio darlings like Matchbox Twenty and Third Eye Blind, the members of Golden Ticket began to ask themselves what it would take to achieve that sort of recognition. From that point on, the group decided the only way to 'make it' was to 'make it happen.' So, they produced an impressive album that is both a product and a reflection of their surroundings. In an age when pop music has made a big resurgence, the members of Golden Ticket find themselves in their element. Having always concentrated on hooks and melody, Andrew and Raymy (with occasional help from Russell) have turned out a batch of songs that scream modern radio. Although the theme of Imaginary Stars focuses on the Hollywood machine it is the larger, more universal, themes that make this album so accessible. 'Supersize,' the CD's opener, catches the listener by surprise. The simple story of a guy on the way to his girlfriend's house quickly explodes into a driving song about priorities and the conflict between who we are and who we want to be.' Following the title track is the euphoric 'George Bailey's Shoes,' in which the singer compares his state of mind to that of the lead character in It's a Wonderful Life. 'Hollywood Ending' provides the first glimpse into the album's more serious side. The timeless nature of the melody augments the song's sentiment that we should all be careful what we ask for. Similar themes run through the remainder of the tracks, which range musically from slamming to introspective. The album closes with the band's anthem 'Tomorrow,' in which we are reminded not to sacrifice the present for the future. RECOGNITION Los Angeles Music Awards - Best Male Vocalist John Lennon Songwriting Contest - Top 10 in Rock Category Northern California Songwriters Association Contest - First Place in Rock Category Mid-Atlantic Songwriter's Competition - Second Place Adult Contemporary Category.