GregHowley.com

Guster

Wednesday, September 14th 2011

It's been a long time since I've found a new band to like. I discovered Barenaked Ladies back in 2005 or so, and aside from that much of the music I listen to is probably at least thirty years old: Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, Billy Joel, Beastie Boys, Boston. I've discovered a bunch of nerd-centric music recently - Jonathan Coulton and MC Frontalot are awesome - but man cannot live on nerd alone.

I was recently looking for some new music, and I've got a number of friends who really love Guster, so I decided to give them a shot. And I can't stop listening.

Either Way - The mix of synthetic and acoustic instruments along with great subtle percussion and excellent harmonies just works for me. Good stuff.

Careful - This song has a very old school feel. At least one of the guitar riffs makes me think of the Beach Boys, and it has some great harmonies. Also, I'm not much of a guitar aficionado, but that may be a 12-string guitar I'm hearing that gives it that sound.

Manifest Destiny - This is a romantic little ditty with a fantastic tune. I love the piano, I love the chord changes, and I love the song's energy and its theme of a couple in love changing the world. It's a bit odd in its use of the 19th-century expansionist terminology, but the song is good.

Two Points for Honesty - I've had this song stuck in my head for days at a time. It's incredibly catchy. The meter isn't intuitive - it will catch you off-guard until you're used to it. The song switches between 3/4 and 4/4 time as it comes in and out of the chorus. The guitar parts are very complex - I love it

Center of Attention - In the same way that Helicopters was the first Barenaked Ladies song that Lia took to at age two, she's taken to this tune. She loves to sing "keep my mouth shut tight, tight, tight". And yes - of course she took to the song because I played it for her more than once.

Barrel of a Gun - The chord changes in the chorus along with the harmonies just grab me, and the bridge seals the deal.

Ramona - A much slower tune than most of my favorites on this list, and the song's beginning is a bit drab, but the chord changes in the chorus are so, so good. It took a while to grow on me, but by the second time the chorus rolls around, it just grabs you.

Fa Fa - Aside from the song's great percussion, the guitar that jumps up and down a major fourth at the beginning just works.

Satellite - The subtle bass guitar and that same 12-string sounding guitar blend into synthesizers and subtle background vocals to create a beautiful wall of sound.

Ruby Falls - Very slow to grow on me, but after a few days of listening to the album, I got the chorus - just the chorus - stuck in my head on endless repeat one day.

If you've not heard this band, check out a couple of the YouTube links. You may find that you enjoy the music.

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