red lights


A gloomy launching pad

Augustana - All the Stars and Boulevards
1 1/2 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 27, 2005

Review by Andy Argyrakis

The roots of alt rock/dreamy pop foursome Augustana can be traced back to college beginnings in Greenville, IL, though after dropping out of school, members became products of San Diego, California. But between playing around central Illinois and the west coast, the gang got signed to Epic, went on tour with the Stereophonics and also booked road time with Embrace in addition to solo dates.

Considering its members have traveled around over the last several years, much of All the Stars and Boulevards revolves around the feelings from a particular place or time period. Take for instance the melancholy, mid-tempoed ballad "Hotel Roosevelt," the droning piano pop of "Boston" and the dreariness of "California's Burning." Throughout all of the above, Augustana lands somewhere between the Brit pop of Keane and the ethereal nature of Sleeping At Last, but fails to execute either as well as those they emulate.

In fact, the constant state of flux (also covered throughout cuts like the dreary "Wasteland" and the momentum building "Lonely People") put a dingy and depressing cloud over the album. Singer Dan Layus sounds sulky on nearly all of these, while the lyrics are always complaining about seedy motels, missing home or being bummed in general. Augustana would be much better turning that frown upside down and coming up with some more compelling instrumental progressions come the next outing, because as it stands right now, its debut is a frustrating and gloomy launching pad.

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