Sunday, May 8, 2011

New Music Review – Augustana “Augustana”

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If a band is consistently inconsistent, are they at least consistent in some way? With its third album Augustana once again shows that they are capable of putting two to three well above average songs onto a pretty good album. Seems to me that if Augustana just waited 5 years between every album, they could release something special.

Back in 2005 Augustana released their full length debut “All the Stars and Boulevards”, a finicky album full of so-so tracks intermingled with total gems. “Boston” became a resonating hit, and deservedly so. Lost in the fame of “Boston” was that it might not have even been the best song on the album, with both “Sunday Best” and “Wasteland” stacking up favorably. In 2008 “Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt” hit the shelves, and the story remained the same. Forgettable tracks made up most the album, but “20 Years”, “Hey Now” and pseudo-hit “Sweet and Low” justified the purchase just by being so fantastically good in their own rights.

Their third release, the self-titled “Augustana” (I hate when bands do that on an album that’s not their first…), brings more of the same, for better and for worse. Are their plenty of forgettable tracks here? Yes, although I’ll admit the middle-of-the-road fodder might step it up just a slight notch. However, once again there are a couple true winners. “Just Stay Here Tonight” features one their most rousing choruses yet, while “Wrong Side of Love” seems to take a page from the likes of The Killers and Bruce Springsteen as they belt the energetic song. Right below these two standouts are the almost-great tracks “Steal Your Heart” and “Shot in the Dark”. The rest? A bit average, but that’s how these guys operate. Augustana always has enough good songs to justify the purchase, and should be a staple band for those of us who love bands like Jimmy Eat World on top of all the more indie-centric artists we listen to. Say what you want about the average tracks; Augustana is tracking for a heckuva best hits album by 2017.

2 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you that a few of the songs are channeling Bruce Springsteen. It was an odd thing to hear from them. When I think of Augustana I think of beautiful and slightly heart wrenching piano melody, not scruffy voices or rock n roll.

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  2. Definitely didn't expect to hear it from them, but the way he was using his voice in especially the first couple songs immediately made me think of Bruce Springsteen too.

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