Sunday, August 2, 2009

OAR - All Sides

Returning with their first studio album in over three years, OAR released All Sides in 2008. This was the follow up disc to the most successful album of their career, Stories of a Stranger. So, was OAR able to deliver the goods, compete with their past, and turn out an album worthy of your time and interest? Let’s spin the disc and find out!

All Sides opens with the catchy, This Town, a rocking, campy, sing along celebrating the love of Anytown, USA. It’s a song that opened a lot of shows on the supporting tour, and one that the fans enjoyed. While the tune is catchy and Jerry DePizzo’s saxophone sounds great on this cut, it’s far from the strongest song of the disc, falling more into the realm of weakest.

Shattered is the second song, first single released, and one of the best OAR songs ever. The pain, passion, and emotional charge contained are astonishing. The lyrical content is powerful and Marc Roberge’s vocals are intense. It’s the best he’s sounded in a while and you can tell that he worked hard to record this song, making sure to hit the notes just right. The end result is nothing short of phenomenal. Shattered is an exceptional song of personal journey through pain.

Living In The End is a stellar track that the band performed in concert before All Sides was ever recorded. There is a live version of this song available on Live At Madison Square Garden, a double disc live set released in 2007. This song is a blistering mix of rock guitar, jazz saxophone, heavy metal drums, and good times. A strong rock and roll song, this is sure to please fans and newcomers alike.

Another standout track from this disc is the quietly smooth, Dinner Last Night. While the lyrics are simple and, quite frankly, juvenile by OAR standards, the music is hauntingly delightful. Jerry’s sax is jazz perfect, and the melody makes it a worthy song. The message in the lyrics is about the end of a relationship, but not much is ever revealed. Just the simple question of “Is this the end?”

Richard On is one of the most underrated guitarists in rock. He’s up there with Mick Mars. Richard is an amazing guitarist and his work shines through on All Sides. His solo on Living In The End is superb, and his ability to switch from shredder (on the heavier songs) to smooth and tight (for the moderate and slow songs) is excellent.

Marc Roberge’s vocals sound better than ever on this record. Although his voice always contained a bit of that smoker’s rasp, Marc has amazing skill behind the microphone and on the acoustic guitar. His vocals are incredible for All Sides.

Then there’s Jerry DePizzo on the saxophone. Always a welcomed sound, Jerry is the Clarence Clemmons of the group. His ability with the horn is amazing and his talent shows through on this record. He gives a terrific sax solo on Living In The End, toots the horn well on Try Me, and pulls the whole thing together on Dinner Last Night. Without his sax, that latter song wouldn’t be very good at all.

All Sides is a solid, rocking, OAR album that is sure to please anyone who invests money and time into it. A worthy follow up to Stories of a Stranger, All Sides shows that OAR is continuing to grow as a band. They don’t want to rehash the same songs or sound for every album, and that helps them become deeper musically. While waiting years between releases can be aggravating, it’s appreciated when the disc is finally released, because a lot of time and effort and care went into the production and the end result is worthy of my hard earned money. All Sides is a disc that you should definitely pick up and listen to, preferably on a long road trip to nowhere. You’ll be glad you did.

Track Listing
This Town
Whatever Happened
Try Me
One Day
Living In The End
Something Coming Over
What Is Mine
Dinner Last Night
The Fallout
War Song
On My Way

No comments: