Oh No Not Stereo, 003

Oh No Not Stereo, 003

Plenty has been said of Oh No Not Stereo and their brand of emo-laden pop rock. Of their latest release, 003, some say their pop sensibilities are too formulaic and forgettable. Others say that Oh No Not Stereo has arisen to fill the musical void left when New Found Glory and Good Charlotte changed their sound. I listened to this album eight times. Yes, eight times, man. On first listen, I found the album unremarkable — I’m not the greatest fan of most commercial or pop music, and there were no less than three songs with “whoas” in them — yet I felt an odd compulsion to listen to the album again and again.

With each subsequent listen, I started to see the unique identity of this Midwest-turned-Hollywood band. It’s not like Sky Neilsen and Mykul Lee, the duo that comprises Oh No Not Stereo, only know four chords. Not only can they play their instruments, they can play a lot of them, from piano to accordion to xylophone to — dare I say it — triangle. They’ve also accomplished some pretty cool things, from having their music licensed on a slew of MTV shows, including Paris Hilton’s My New BFF and Meet The Barkers, to having Airin Older of Sugarcult add guest instrumentation to their latest album.

What I appreciate most and yet what frustrates me most about Oh No Not Stereo is this fearless approach they apply to their songwriting. They are not afraid to be pop. They are not afraid to ride a refrain, exalt a catchy hook, or sing those sweet melodic “whoas.” Yet they’re also not afraid to distort their sweet melodies with Foo Fighter-like screams or incorporate all these other instruments that they explore into their composition, which I find commendable.

Nowhere is my frustration/appreciation more evident than on “Shot Down by the Man,” where Sky exhorts, “Middle finger in the air / Scream it loud and clear.” I hate that line; it feels forced to me, almost like it’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek when they didn’t mean it that way, yet it’s like Sky could care less. It’s like he’s daring you with his music, saying “this is who we are, this is how we want to express ourselves, deal with it.” And damnit, man, I really like that song. It’s a really cool chorale against generational disenfranchisement.

In the end, the album grew on me. My favorite track would probably be “Hurricanes (Right Behind You),” because I went through Katrina and can relate to not heeding a dire warning until it’s too late. My only warning about this album would be that if you’re not a fan of pop-rock, you might not want to listen to this album more than once, because it’ll grow on you, and you might end up having to do some serious soul-searching.

(self-released; Oh No Not Stereo -- http://www.ohnonotstereo.net/)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Friday, September 18th, 2009. Filed under Reviews.

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