Title: “Leona Naess”
Artist: Leona Naess
Genre: Light Indie
Label: Geffen Records
You’ll be biting your knuckles as you try to remember where you’ve heard each song before, but after the 11th track on Leona Naess’ third album, you’ll realize it’s the simplicity, not the repetition, which rings a bell. Clean guitar plucks accompany Naess’ airy vocals as she explores her various shades of emotion. Produced by Elton John, the album has a hollow sound that reels listeners in before they can be tempted to disconnect. This bare music’s honesty legitimizes the wishy-washy love topics discussed, and to Naess, as an artist.
Title: “Halfway Between Now and Then”
Genre: Jam/Indie Pop
Label: Atlantic Records
O.A.R.’s moniker is not pronounced “oar,” as in the device used to row a boat; each letter is enunciated because the name stands for “of a revolution.” The songs on “Halfway Between Now and Then” are inoffensive, the chord changes are harmless and the melodies are squeaky-clean. In short, the album is by no means revolutionary. The Bob Marley-esque first bars of the opener, “Dareh Meyod,” are promising, but as soon as lead singer Marc Roberge’s nasal vocal delivery of hackneyed lyrics begins, all bets are off. And things don’t improve as the album plods on. O.A.R.’s style is a scattershot mishmash of reggae and jam-rock, and the end product leaves the listener feeling numb. The same “funky” chord changes and mechanical rhythm section reappear time and again; lyrics remain mediocre and completely lacking of poetic worth. Richard On’s guitar does shine at times, but the album is better suited for mass consumption on commuter radio than for revolutionaries. “Who knew life could feel so good?” Roberge asks in “Risen.” A better question is, who knew music could feel so lifeless?