Recorded at the bands first official acoustic shows at a couple of different locales in Texas, this set showcases their tunes in both a different setting and with a different vocal approach. Theyre not ugly versions of the songs, although they are unplugged - this serves the songs and their arrangements well, especially on Come In Closer, which seems more personal with the absence of the female singer on the full version; X Amount of Words, which adds in a shakeup in the bass line; the popular Jump Rope; and the evocative, emotional The End. Its a nice acoustic roundup of what this band can do without their full sound.
I Wrestled A Bear Once - Ruining It for Everybody - Century Media
Somewhere between serious screamo music and post-metal-emo - they dont seem to be quite sure where theyre meant to be - IWABO produced this album a little more thoroughly than previous releases, but its still just kind of well, average. Nothing about this album makes them really stand out from the pack; even though they term themselves as experimental, you cant help but think youve heard these same experiments attempted somewhere else. Its difficult to pick any highlight tracks, because they all, unfortunately, seem to run together; perhaps theyll do some groundwork and make a better set next time around.
Dave Matthews Band - Live at Wrigley Field - RCA
This endlessly-popular, jazzy rock-jam band never seem to slow down, at least not to their loyal base of fans. 40,000 of said fans showed up for this show at Chicagos historic Wrigley Field last September to watch (and listen, of course) to this particular set, which included plenty of old favorite DMB songs and a few newer ones. Youll hear familiar DMB hits like Jimi Thing, Crash Into Me, and Tripping Billies, all delivered with the energy and precision the band is known for. Jimi Thing in particular is notable, if for nothing else than to hear an entire crowd of that size singing along. A fun listen for Dave Matthews fans.
Augustana - Augustana - Epic
This is Augustanas third set, with production by Kings of Leon cohort Jacquire King. With its theme of fighting for the one you love, the songs here are impassioned and strong, balancing determination with romance; Steal Your Heart has a spare but solid hook to it, while Shot in the Dark adds more depth to its own hook, and some of Augustanas usual pianos are exchanged for guitar, which is a nice change for the group. A few experimental elements - the mandolin on Borrowed Time and the synthon Shot , for example, seem not quite fused with Augustanas arrangements, but dont detract enough to take away from the overall impression.