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Augustana - All the Stars and Boulevards
|Augustana - All the Stars and Boulevards|
Release Date: September 6, 2005
Record Label: Epic
Augustana vocalist Dan Layus croons “Are we gonna make it?” amidst falsetto “ooh”s in the choruses of the opening track on All the Stars and Boulevards, and by the end of the album, it’s easy to come up with an answer for him: yes. Perhaps he’s not even talking about the fate of his band, but that’s all I could think about while listening to Augustana’s debut—this band has the songs and the budget (a budget of “Epic” proportions, mind you) to make it big. Normally, bands which are tagged as possible mainstream successes aren’t exactly all that great (there are exceptions, of course). Make no mistake though: I would kill to hear bands like Augustana on the radio.
Playing a brand of mellow, laid back indie rock (think Days Away meets Travis meets Lovedrug), Augustana is pretty chill, but they don’t lack energy. Songs like “Bullets” and “Lonely People” have pretty aggressive, high-tempo choruses. Sure, there are ballads a-plenty, such as “Wasteland,” and “California’s Burning” but Augustana does a nice job mixing it up tempo-wise. The vocals sort of remind me of the guy from Our Lady Peace (or Travis? Train?) at times (“Stars and Boulevards”), or some band like that. I don’t really listen to the radio enough to tell you who exactly the vocalist sounds like—but I know it’s someone. I just can’t put my finger on it. The music is pretty much driven by jangly, clean/lightly distorted guitars and slightly delayed, reverb-ed leads, and it seems that everything gets kicked up a notch in the choruses, as layers of guitars fill in, amplifying and thickening up the sound. Pianos make brief appearances on the CD as well. I bet Augustana has either those nice Orange amps or vintage Fender stuff—maybe that will help describe the guitar tones/the vibe on the album for all you guitar geeks out there.
I definitely have some favorite tracks on the album. The choruses of “Bullets” and “Hotel Roosevelt” (a very Lovedrug-esque song, vocally) are downright huge, with urgent vocals making them some of the more attention-grabbing songs on the CD. I bet there won’t be a single review of this album that doesn’t mention “Boston,” a beautiful ballad led by a playful, flowing piano, complete with falsettos, interleaving guitar lead arpeggios, and very subtle electric keyboards. “Feel Fine” opens with a great, spacey guitar lead over mid-tempo instrumentation, only to give way to a stripped down, slowed-down verse, though the verse is eventually layered with bending, echo-y clean guitars. The cool intro riff comes back throughout the song and is just a treat. “Sunday Best” is my favorite song—it’s an acoustic track with light drumming that features a mandolin lead and some electric organ work; it is simply gorgeous.
Augustana is a band that I would love to see get huge. I find it kind of weird that they’re making a splash in our scene, but I’m all for it. Good music is good music, and though I know I keep saying they have a “mainstream” sound, they’re not like Default or Audioslave, or anything close to that. I think they have a tinge of “emo” in them, so please don’t be frightened off. Fans of Days Away will definitely like this band, especially with their beautiful, down to earth, organic sound, and I hope Epic pushes them hard. All the Stars and Boulevards sounds like the work of a very mature, experienced band, not a debut.
11:27 PM on 12/30/05
This band reminds me of the goo goo dolls for some reason. Good review Rohan. I find the Cd to be too mellow at times though. "Wasteland" is my favorite song.
02:27 AM on 01/07/06
i want this album.
02:56 PM on 01/07/06
I love this album, its one of those that I can listen to and it reminds me of a certain time of my life, and to me, thats a very strong compliment.
04:59 PM on 01/07/06
augustana is amazing
i saw them with switchfoot and eisley in november and basically fell in love
03:52 PM on 04/29/06
like the sound of these guys. theyre coming to town with the fray.
sunday best is the best song on the album. the vocals and the light guitar go perfectly together.
03:54 PM on 06/06/06
This cd has been in my car for months now. Good stuff. Good review.
"Put me on a plane, fly me to anywhere"
01:29 PM on 12/25/06
This album is grreat and these guys are my faves, they are my complete inspiration for the band i am forming right now,, i pretty much know every one of their songs by heart:P
10:22 AM on 06/24/07
The album's title track, "Bullets", and "Boston" are all beautifully constructed songs. I admire them for a genuine sense of flow, and solid piano appearances in a scene that usually wouldn't embrace it.
04:07 AM on 01/13/08
Dangit Ronan, stop being a butt-head and attach a score to your reviews! Scared of copping flack for your reviews or something?
08:54 PM on 01/17/08
amazing band. i hope it make it big.
06:09 PM on 03/04/08
I really enjoy this album. Too bad you don't hear more stuff like this on the radio.
04:11 AM on 11/14/09
You're not real musician!
anyone know why this review doesn't have a real score?
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