A band that many people will most certainly be new to and urge you to not pass on this group - give them a chance; you won't be disappointed.
All the Stars and Boulevards is the first studio album from American based soft-rock band Augustana, which consists of band members;
Dan Layus, vocals, piano, guitar
Jared Palomar, bass, vocals
Justin South, drums
Chris Sachtleben, lead guitar, Mandolin
John Vincent, keys, vocals
The first play through of this album was one of the most magical musical experiences I have ever heard. The sometimes haunting melodies of Boston and Wasteland mix perfectly with the more pacey Bullets and Hotel Roosevelt, which are also perfectly complimented by the perfect soft mix felt in Sunday Best and Stars and Boulevards.
The album is perhaps most well-known for the single 'Boston' but rest assured that there is much more to this idyllic album than one single. This is an album that gets better with every listen and better again with another.
I cannot describe simply enough how much I love this album, and all I can say to readers of this review is listen to it, listen to it now.
And now for your reading pleasure, a band that I can be certain that 99% of you will not have heard of
with their debut album All The Stars And Boulevards.
Released on Epic Records in 2005, this quartet are, by first listen anyway, the nearest style the Americans have to a Brit-pop band but saying that means they are nothing like Oasis/Blur/Suede/Pulp/Supergrass etc. Instead they represent a slightly pessimistic view on life the fact that Americans only sing about the bad times shows they are oh so miserable people!!
Opening track Mayfield shares a sound not to far away from the likes of Snow Patrol, Train or Mercury Rev from this side of the pond if you will there you go, youll feel as if youve known this band for years now! A loud, vibrant voice from vocalist Dan Layus on top of progressive rock music, that after dying down with about 45 seconds to go, bursts into a cressendo for the final 25. An effect that is by no means original, but damn effective in many peoples eyes, or perhaps ears should be more appropriate?
Bullets is a stand-out track on the album, and certainly one for those people looking to download something by them (legally of course!) bursting with life, if seems to steer clear of this pessimistic viewpoint I mentioned earlier on, however the lyrics have an underlying theme of drinking the night away, thinking about a lost love or words to that effect.
The fourth track on the album shows even more similarities to the likes of Mercury Rev and Train; using a piano to set the rhythm, whilst eventually introducing drums and guitars later on, allowing it to slowly but surely burst into life, and eventually dying down once weve all been worn out, in a good way I should reiterate.
Title track Stars and Boulevards was the first song Id heard by the band whilst skimming through MTV2 one lazy afternoon. My instant reaction was an American Snow Patrol was being paraded around. However that still enticed me into listening, and Im certainly glad I did. The style is of course similar to the previous tracks youve already gone through, however the rhythm and tempo just seem to standout a little bit more here this and Bullets are certainly ones to test the water with.
Also, yet again the lyrics seem to focus on one core subject matter I fear sunrise will come too soon and youll disappear; into the haze of this city and go south late nights wont do me justice; case when I drink I just get so damn depressed yes, the story of lifes lost love. The odd imaginative person will discredit them here for lacking some subject matter, however the lyrics are well written and thought out not just a bunch of words strung together that seem very ambiguous when you hear them, and even more so when you read them without trying to single them out, Im talking Coldplay here.
Unfortunately, having listened to the album a few times now, after Stars and Boulevards, the rest of the album does struggle to reach the dizzying heights of beforehand. My argument here is that the standard of the opening 5 tracks is exemplary, and to keep up this effort for all 11 tracks would have meant far more people would have heard of them by now.
For those in need of wanting to know what the rest of its like tracks Lonely People and Sunday Best still are admirable efforts and definitely worth a listen. However tracks such as Coffee and Cigarettes is just one of those songs that a number of 4-star albums have but 5-star ones dont just meandering about not going anywhere and just an obvious wind-down from the rest of the album.
Ive drawn similaries to as many British bands I can think of, but if you want an example of what North American bands they replicate then the likes of the Goo Goo Dolls meets 3 Doors Down meets Bright Eyes could be a worthwhile comparison if a somewhat interesting one.
You can pick the album up off Amazon for £9.98 not the cheapest CD available out there nowadays, however you can get it in the used and new section for a mere £3.91 at the moment now thats a bargain!
So, there you have it. If you do one thing today and want it be along the lines of finding a new band out there, give Augustana a go. Theres enough bands out there that are similar to them but maybe thats their problem, theyre too much like other bands to break the market. Shame, you may just like them.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Hotel Roosevelt
5 Stars and Boulevards
6 Feel Fine
8 Lonely People
9 Sunday Best
10 California's Burning
11 Coffee and Cigarettes