CD REVIEW: O.A.R. "King"

King (Deluxe Version)
O.A.R. takes making music more seriously than any other band in the business and that is never more evident than on their newest album. The defining piece is that the album sounds like an O.A.R. live show. It hasn't been this evident that O.A.R. was having fun in the studio since the release of "In Between Now And Then." The album is full of hit songs, although they may not be radio ready hits. "Heaven" is a song that could potentially have the band getting award recognition, but it's not a song that is truly the essence of the album. Songs like "Are You Low?," "Taking On The World Today," and "Dangerous Connection" are performed like they have been part of the O.A.R. arsenal since their earliest days. These songs are instant sing-a-longs and feature some instrumental parts that are destined to become insane live solos. The sweet spots on the album are the three interlude tracks thrown in to showcase their spontaneous nature and jam quality, and "We Made It" is one of the funkiest ditties that O.A.R. has ever recorded. The fun never stops and "The Last Time," "Not For Me," and "Gotta Live" prove that point. After two or three plays the songs on this album are as familiar as "Hey Girl" and "That Was a Crazy Game Of Poker." O.A.R. have outdone all expectations for this album and has set the bar pretty high. Once these guys take these songs out on the road, this album is going to reach a whole new level of awesomeness.

CD REVIEW: Guster "On The Ocean EP"

On The Ocean EP
Way back in the day, Guster would release their b-sides to their die hard fans (called reps) by way of a series of EPs known as "The Pasty Tapes." Recently, with the onset of the digital music revolution, Guster has found it in their hearts to grace all fans with the music that didn't quite make the cut on their full length albums. Bonus tracks and other EPs brought us the missing links from Guster's studio sessions. This EP is the latest to feature some Guster rarities, and showcases the radio edit of one of their best new songs from last year's "Easy Wonderful." The gems on the EP are the b-sides, the horn filled "Big White Bed" and Joe Pisapia led "Every Moment." They are both classic Guster and a welcome treat for both die hard and fair weather fans. The disc also features two live tracks from a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC and an indie-electronic remix of the song "This Is How It Feels To Have A Broken Heart." Guster can never release enough music, and it is wonderful that they are sharing their craft with the world, even if it comes in little doses.

CD REVIEW: Release The Sunbird "Come Back To Us"

Come Back To Us
Lots of musicians like to participate in side projects. Many start new bands. Supergroups are a popular thing to try. Others go solo, trying out new music on their own. Release The Sunbird is a bit of all of those. The brainchild of Zach Rogue (lead singer of indie rockers Rouge Wave), this band is every bit of folk and indie that each member brings. The collection is essentially a solo album for Zach Rogue, as it is his music through a different venue. This is music that most likely could not have been executed with as much grace and gentleness by Rogue Wave. "Always Like The Sun" and "No Light" are indie folk gems, and cornerstones of the album. The brightest spot, however, is the album's title track, which updates a 60's California folk sound better than any other indie folk act around these days. Zach's unique voice coupled with female backing vocals is a thing of beauty. While this may be a one off and Zach might not venture down this path with this music again, it's a welcome detour from his day job that his fans benefit from.

CD REVIEW: Matt Nathanson "Modern Love"

Modern Love
Matt Nathanson is one of those veteran musicians that doesn't always get the recognition that he deserves. Grammy awards are not something ever to grace him and his music, and excessive radio airplay is sparse at best. His latest album is about to change all of that. On the heels of his most successful single, Matt Nathanson harnessed the best parts of himself and his music from his entire career and jam packed that energy and creativity into his best and most complete album yet. Matt, as a storyteller, comes across as a true genius. His words aren't incredible poetic, but his messages and his imagery is honest and comes from a place that is actual and real, allowing the listeners to feel and live his music. "Faster" is a hit, and with the radio play it has and will continue to receive it is the song that is the foundation of the album. His recent friendship and collaborations with the country band Sugarland has spawned a new song that is worthy of a Grammy nomination and is sure to become the biggest hit on the album, across several radio formats. "Run" is a beautiful duet sung with Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles and it is just plain amazing. The title track along with the songs "Kept" and "Drop To Hold You" are both classic Nathanson and updated to showcase his age, growth, and maturity. Matt Nathanson is as underrated as he is magnificent, and finally an album will breath extra life into an already incredible career.