Reviews

O.A.R.

Jonathan Singer
O.A.R.

O.A.R.

City: Tinley Park, Illinois
Venue: Tweeter Center
Date: 2002-08-11
There are leaders and there are followers, innovators and thieves, creative businessmen and swindlers. Music acts are no different. Watching Of a Revolution (O.A.R.) perform at the Jeep World Outside Festival was, gently put, painful. O.A.R. represented the worst kind of coattail riding, playing off the crowd's naive sensibilities until beautiful sunflowers sprung out of the Tweeter Center's lawn area, several hundred people bought $3 bottled water, and a handful of discerning fans took to the rest room to throw up. O.A.R. combined the famous traits of many groups of the "jam band" genre, including Jimmy Buffett's Caribbean feel, the BoDeans' meticulousness, the Grateful Dead's glee, Dave Matthews' provocation and Johnny Rzeznik's (Goo Goo Dolls) raspy charm. These traits were then watered down with sophomoric and lustful lyrics and textbook chord progressions. Furthermore, O.A.R. didn't have the talent of any of their influences. Guitar solos were simple, vocals were of limited range and tone, and the songs were average. A "good-time party band" from Ohio State University, O.A.R. has learned its trade well. They've taken notes and try their best to hide their artificiality. They play a lot of solos and sing about women, partying and drinking. And, most important of all, they repeat the name of the city they are playing in. O.A.R. did all of these things, even inserting "Chicago" into their lyrics for three straight songs. O.A.R. showed no originality in their 45-minute set, but much of the crowd was enthralled nonetheless. O.A.R. was the Jessica Simpson of acoustic party rock: packaged and styled, and borrowing the look, voice, clothes and feel of their successful predecessors. And just as some Jessica Simpson fans can't get enough bubble gum to chew, many O.A.R. listeners can't "identify" with enough introspective songs about drinking and sexual desires. Artists can't make it on stage without some effort, though, and O.A.R. deserves at least that credit. The band had a crisp sound with solid beats and execution. Still, it was next to impossible to sit through the O.A.R. set without the jam band cliché alarm going off constantly. As much as anyone, I wish to see bands that I enjoy. But when O.A.R. said "Good night Chicago," I picked a sunflower out of the lawn, gave it to a total stranger, and splurged for a $4 Pepsi.

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Electronic music is one of the broadest-reaching genres by design, and 2017 highlights that as well as any other year on record. These are the 20 best albums.


20. Vitalic - Voyager (Citizen)

Pascal Arbez-Nicolas (a.k.a. Vitalic) made waves in the French Touch electro-house scene with his 2005 debut, OK Cowboy, which had a hard-hitting maximalist sound, but several albums later, Voyager finds him launching into realms beyond at his own speed. The quirky, wallflower vocals and guitar snippets employed throughout Voyager drop a funk that brings to mind WhoMadeWho or Matthew Dear if they had disco-pop injected between their toes. "Levitation" is as pure a slice of dance floor motivation as theoretically possible, a sci-fi gunfight with a cracking house beat sure to please his oldest fans, yet the album-as-form is equally effective in its more contemplative moments, like when Miss Kitten's vocals bring an ethereal dispassion to "Hans Is Driving" to balance out its somber vocoder or the heartfelt cover of "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp. Voyager may infect you with a futuristic form of Saturday Night Fever, but afterwards, it gives you a hearty dose of aural acetaminophen to break it. - Alan Ranta


Keep reading... Show less

It's just past noon on a Tuesday, somewhere in Massachusetts and Eric Earley sounds tired.

Since 2003, Earley's band, Blitzen Trapper, have combined folk, rock and whatever else is lying around to create music that manages to be both enigmatic and accessible. Since their breakthrough album Furr released in 2008 on Sub Pop, the band has achieved critical acclaim and moderate success, but they're still some distance away from enjoying the champagne lifestyle.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image