No compensation or product was received for this review. This one I do out of love for the album, the music and the band.
I listen to music all of the time. Mostly rock. Did you ever have something come onto your iPod, iPhone or mp3 player and wonder “what was I thinking when I liked that”. I have those moments from time to time. It happened recently and got me to thinking about how few bands that there are that I enjoy as much now as I did years ago. One of those bands is Oleander.
Oleander is a rock band from Sacramento, California. In 1999 the band released the album February Son, which I bought. I liked it a lot. Two of the better known songs from the album were “Why I’m Here” and “I Walk Alone.” Depending on your age you might know these songs. The vocals on the album of singer Thomas Flowers sounded great, probably because has an amazing voice with a great range. The music was great. The lyrics made sense, well except for a part of Shrinking The Blob that I still haven’t exactly figured out. Anyway.
In 2001 the band released their second album Unwind. I purchased the second album based solely on my feelings for the first. I wasn’t disappointed, and wound up liking all of it. The better-known songs on this album were “Are You There?” and “Champion”. The band donated profits from Champion to victims from the 9/11 attacks. In later years, I came to think of Champion as a song that reminds me of everything my parents have done for me over the years. It remains a favorite of mine to this day. In 2002 the song Jimmy Shaker Day appeared on the Spiderman soundtrack, a fact that I’d actually forgotten until I was in LA in February for the OZ event and we interviewed James Franco.
In 2003, Oleander released their third album, Joyride. I bought that, and it surpassed expectations. I thought it was solid and in some ways better then the first two. The most recognized song on this album was probably “Hands Off the Wheel.”
And then they disappeared. After a couple of years I figured they’d just had enough and that was that. I kept listening to them in iTunes and later also Spotify. I always hoped that the band would come out with another album, because I knew if they did the chances were good I wouldn’t be as disappointed as I sometimes get when I buy a new album.
Maybe I’m a little picky. I have a strong affection for songs with good vocals and good music behind them with lyrics that make sense. It’s even better when the lyrics make you think and feel. I find that generally when I buy an album there are only a couple of songs that I really, really like. Then there’s a couple more that are ok, I can take or leave them. And then inevitably there are one or two tracks that I just don’t like. The last time I purchased an album that I absolutely loved every single track of was 2006. I was starting to think that there wasn’t going to be another anytime soon. Thankfully – and here’s something I don’t like to say – Wait for it… I was wrong.
Something Beautiful happened.
I fell in love with the song Something Beautiful the first time I heard it. When the album by the same name arrived at my house earlier this week, I played it immediately and fell in love. Hard. It’s been playing pretty much constantly.
Here are the tracks on Something Beautiful, and a few brief thoughts about each.
- “Fight” – Toe-tapping, fast paced fight song. Makes perfect sense that it’s a song for the WWE 12 game.
- “Something Beautiful” – One of my top three. Great range on vocals and music. Bass.
- “Bulletproof” – One of my top three. Opens softly as an acoustic. Look for the slide that signals the shift in pace and full sound kicks in.
- “Until It’s Over” – The soulful beginning of this ballad tricks you, the song builds and accelerates and then takes off. Full sound and vocals just take off at points.
- “Never Too Late” – One of my top three, probably my favorite. Opens softly. Then, fooled you! Hard and driving. A little crunchy. This will be the song that gets me into trouble driving on the Parkway for sure.
- “Save The Best” – Heavy bass. Nice solo. Love the variations in pitch and pace.
- “Save Me” – Introspective. Love the way they mix up the pace throughout the song.
- “You Are The One” – I could see this crossing over. Upbeat. Big. Catchy.
- “Daylight” – I could see this crossing over as well. Sort of a lonely feel. A lot of building sound. Soars at points.
- “Where Do We Go From Here” – Absolutely beautiful ballad. Love the range on the vocals. Sad and hopeful at the same time.
- “How Do We Say Goodbye” – Another beautiful song that I can see crossing over.
It was a coincidence that the last two songs, “Where Do We Go From Here” and “How Do We Say Goodbye”, came on while I was driving down Route 35, between Bay Head and Seaside. Basically it was sort of Ground Zero for Sandy six months ago, and is just two miles from my house. The songs somehow fit the situation and my thoughts and frame of mind as I viewed the devastation that still remains. I can’t explain it. I cried as I slowly drove this stretch of road that I’ve driven my whole life, taking pictures of the destruction that remains and the signs of rebuilding that are appearing. The songs only served to reinforce the feelings and the questions. This area is bruised and working hard to recover. The last two songs will hit home, and ask questions out loud that cry for answers.
- Thomas Flowers – vocals
- Doug Eldridge – bass guitar
- Ric Ivanisevich – guitar
- Steve Brown – drums
- Rich Mouser – guitar
Something Beautiful has something for everyone and I can’t praise it enough. I wasn’t sure what to expect after almost ten years off. I was so happy to find that Thomas Flowers still has an amazing voice and possibly an even greater range. The lyrics still make sense, and seem more relevant then ever. The music is still cohesive and full of great hooks. Musically, lyrically, vocally – it’s all amazing. It’s become my favorite of the four albums. Oleander should be very proud, it is an outstanding album.
You will find Something Beautiful streaming on @aolmusic thru tomorrow.
Oleander kicks off a tour today, beginning with five stops in Texas. Check the website or the Oleander Facebook page for dates and venues.