Son Inspired Music Reviews - Guster
Guster is an alternative/folk rock band who initially formed at Tuft University in Medford, Massachusetts in 1991 and at that time consisted of Adam Gardner, Ryan Miller and Brian Rosenworcel. They were later joined by the incredibly talented Joe Pisapia, who has been with team Guster since their "Keep It Together" album. They have to be the best East Coast band to never have made an appearance on Saturday Night Live. That needs to be corrected! Seriously, they had the Ting Tings on last week.... no disrespect intended really. I just have to wonder why these guys haven't graced the SNL stage? They're even an East Coast band for crying out loud, SNL get on it.
They were one of the first bands I took a liking to based on the influences of my son, Landon, who is currently a college student at UW-Milwaukee. I was so impressed with Guster, that I immediately purchased all of their albums (the ones they had at that time) and formed a Yahoo! listgroup called, Guster City. I even had a link off the http://www.guster.comhomepage at one time, but that has been since revised and left out. <sad face> The band is very accessible and our listgroup had a few gracious visits from Brian, who was manning the firstname.lastname@example.org address back then. Maybe he still is? We had some serious converstaions about their helping our local charity event for the American Cancer Society, called "Relay For Life". A great group of caring guys to be sure.
Guster, is a humorous and intelligent band who are best known for their harmonies and insane bongo beating drummer, Brian Rosenworcel, also known as The Thundergod. He's since started to use a regular drum set as well but initially, the poor guy would literally beat his hands bloody banging away on all sorts of percussion instruments to edgy tunes like "Barrel of a Gun".
The band is on the cutting edge of involvement with environmental issues and in fact, Adam Gardner and his wife, Lauren Sullivan, co-founded Reverb (http://www.reverb.org), an organization devoted to educating bands and their fans about environmental issues. Educating us on what we all can do to lessen the crap we are doing to our lovely planet Earth. Sadly, the group has been so involved in having kids, promoting bio-diesel and green initiatives, they haven't put out an album since 2006's, "Ganging Up On The Sun". Something they've said they plan to correct in the near future. Hopefully, the very very near future! Please?
I was familiar with their catchy hit, "Amsterdam", a clever song about a relationship breakup before I was fully "Gusterized". However, I was pleased to find that there had been three other albums put out by Guster before "Keep It Together", namely "Parachute", "Gold Fly" and "Lost and Gone Forever". The most recent release, "Ganging Up On The Sun" was a slight departure from their earlier work but still in keeping with the true essence of Guster. "Ganging Up On The Sun" spawned two mildly successful singles, "One Man Wrecking Machine" and "Satellite". Although, my two favorite cuts off that album have to be "The New Underground" or "My Valentine" which showcases Adam Gardner on vocals. Adam seems to do more backing vocals on the most recent effort and :Ganging..." seems to lack some of the harmonies between himself and Ryan that initially drew me to Guster. But who am I to stand in the way of their creative decision making? The album is still a great piece of work, one of their best efforts. A fan needs to grow along with a band.
Guster's earlier hits include songs like "Airport Song", "Demons", "Barrel of a Gun", "Fa Fa" and one of my favorites,"Happier". To really appreciate Guster you need to get all the albums and enjoy the progression they make with each new release. Guster is one of those bands who are as good, if not better, live than in person. I've seen two shows and the crowd is a nice mix of kids, college students and geezer parents like me. They have a unique program where helping them out with their environmental info stands before a show can get you a free pass to it. These guys really care. The antics at a show are hilarious. I was a tad surprised to watch several hundred ping pong balls being launched on stage at the end of "Airport Song", if you listen to that song you can hear the sound of a game of ping pong in the background as the tune finishes, thus the fan based reaction. The fans also like to do some shout outs, such as the "Dirty, oh so dirty!!" fan response during "Demons".
Guster is a mix of styles and moods, ranging from humorous to religious inquiry to deep personal introspection. A high energy and extremely enjoyable band to listen to or watch live. For that live experience, I recommend getting their DVD "Guster On Ice", which captures the feel of a live show and includes lots of interesting behind the scenes 'extras'. There isn't a more environmentally responsible band in America nor a better group of guys. I highly recommend that if you have not heard Guster, that you run out and buy up all their albums. You won't be dissapointed. Let's hope we see them on Saturday Night Live soon too!