|O.A.R. - In Between Now and Then|
|Music Disc Reviews Audio CD|
|Written by Dan MacIntosh|
|Tuesday, 27 May 2003|
| Performance 7 | Sound 7 |
O.A.R. is an Ohio-based jam band that sounds like a cross between a fairly good white reggae outfit and the Dave Matthews Band. The group’s initials may stand for “Of A Revolution,” but this is by no means a politicized band, nor does it create particularly revolutionary music. Instead, In Between Now And Then, O.A.R.’s major label debut, is an album of likable – if not particularly memorable – music.
Some of these songs might just be autobiographical, such as “Coalminer,” which tells the story about a dad who works in the mines. “Road Outside Columbus” is seemingly also taken from real-life experiences, as it talks about growing up and moving beyond the constraints of the old hometown. While such moments draw upon non-fictional experiences, they’re never ever too close and personal for comfort.
Something like the more generic “Hey Girl,” on the other hand, is nothing more than a straightforward love song and sounds like less funky Spin Doctors. But this reference point aside, it’s hard to find any one group or artist that O.A.R. sounds like. “James,” which is an acoustic guitar waltz, hearkens back to The Smiths’ softer side, whereas “Right On Time” – with its repeating and swirling guitar figure -- has the surging forward motion of The Clash. “Risen” throws down a little old school R&B swagger, and “Revisited” is sax-assisted jazz-rock that is just a tad psychedelic before it goes into a full-on reggae assault in its outro. And speaking of reggae, “Any Time Now” is a taste of sweet and slow reggae. For the most part, O.A.R. takes found sounds, and doctors these with their own unique spin.
On “Anyway,” lead singer Marc Roberge expresses how his hi-fi stereo is his “best friend, anyway,” and we believe him. Although “In Between Now And Then” is packed with pleasantly familiar styles and sounds, it lacks any one breakout song to get O.A.R. beyond its loyal jam-band fans. Having saxophonist Jerry DePizzo in the band gives it a jazzy element that separates O.A.R. from most other contemporary outfits, but there’s little else about this group that is truly unique.
This album may not set the pop charts on fire, but if it’s on the stereo when a few buddies decide to get together for beers, it makes for a fittingly unobtrusive soundtrack.