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Non-Prog CD Reviews

O. A. R. (Of A Revolution)

In Between Now And Then

Review by Gary Hill

O.A.R. is a band with a bit of an identity crisis, when it comes to their name. No, the band is not "Oar", but rather the name is an anacronym that stands for Of A Revolution. They seem to have a bit of a problem musically, too, but not really a big one. The band produces an intriguing blend of modern rock, reggae, funk and even some jazz and progressive rock leanings. The real problem is that a lot of their material is just too similar to each other. I really think, though, had they arranged the songs a bit differently on the disc, this wouldn't have been nearly as obvious. However, the way it is set up here it really starts to drag in the middle because all the cuts feel far too much like the one before and the one after. Still, this is really not insurmountable problem, as the group seems to have a great understanding of writing and performing accessible, yet substantial music. With a little work on the pacing and varying of songs, they could be great. As it is, they are very good.

The CD also includes a bonus DVD. This disc includes live footage of three songs. It also has quite a few other clips, and even a full-on documentary. It's a nice bonus, and goes a long way towards lending understanding of the band. All in all, this album is an entertaining one, probably just not one to relax and really listen hard to it. The title is a nice touch, though, in that the first and last tracks are entitled "Now" and "Then" respectively. Look for great things from this group. I have a hunch they have the potential to deliver; they just need a little more experience.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 2 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Now
This is a short intro that segues directly into the next track. It has a killer retro texture, feeling a lot like The Animals.
Dareh Meyod
If The Police had had a more true reggae sound and a horn section, they might have sounded a lot like this song. This one features a killer spacey reggae jam.
Risen
If the last one felt like The Police, this one has a texture more like Madness, but feels more like a cross between a funky rocker and a reggae song with a solid helping of Dixieland. This rocker has a great arrangement and is just plain fun. The band really cuts loose on this one, and it ends abruptly.
Right On Time
A modern rock/funk sound begins this cut in an energetic style. As the verse kicks in, the pace and intensity drops, but the earlier mode returns on the chorus. The arrangement ton this one is very impressive and it's one of the more effective tracks on the disc.
Mr. Moon
This starts a bit more slowly in a modern rock mode. The vocals on this one are some of the best to be found here, at times soaring. The song structure is also one of the more thought out on show. This is another definite winner on a strong album.
Revisited
Bass begins this one, and the percussion joins in shortly. The sax adds a great jazzy texture to the piece, but this is an almost progish rock arrangement. The bases truly drives it. The chorus is very catchy, and a reggae section later is a great change of pace.
Hey Girl
Another energetic modern rock cut, this one isn't exception, but quite entertaining. It's just a little too much like the material surrounding it. It does have a cool slower bridge.
James
Starting slowly and in a rather Bob Dylan type style, this ramps up the power and intensity later. This includes a very potent instrumental break that is quite prog oriented.
Coalminer
Beginning on just acoustic guitar, as the rest of the instruments join it becomes a funky bouncy tune. This is a lot of fun.
Old Man Time
This is a solid, but not exceptional cut.
Anyway
By this point a lot of the material is sounding the same, and this one is no exception.
Road Outside Columbus
This one is another dose of what most of the last few cuts have delivered.
Any Time Now
This is a change of pace - a slow, bluesy reggae cut. It serves to alter the mood just when it is really needed.
Whose Chariot
Another one that offers some change, this cut starts in a cool bouncy pattern. The chorus on this one has a great classic rock texture. The bass line on the verses, along with the returning choppy guitar pattern from the intro create a unique piece.
Then
This isn't really a song, but just a big burst of thunder.
 
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