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Album Review

Last time around, Ric Ocasek went for a big sound in an attempt at a big comeback, enlisting Smashing Pumpkin Billy Corgan as a co-producer for about half the album and using such alt-rock luminaries as Bad Religion guitarist Brian Baker and Hole/Smashing Pumpkin alumna Melissa Auf der Maur as bassist. The record may have worked but it wasn't a hit, and Ocasek retreated back to his lucrative career as a producer, taking a full eight years to deliver his next solo album, 2005's Nexterday. This is pretty much the opposite of 1997's Troublizing: Ocasek plays nearly every instrument himself and maintains an appealingly relaxed vibe for the entirety of this 11-track album. While he doesn't necessarily stretch himself here, he doesn't sound as if he's resting on his laurels, either. The songs are lean and well constructed, the production is uncluttered yet with enough subtle details to keep things from sounding samey, and every once in a while he'll throw in a curveball — as in how "Don't Lose Me" shares the same light yet tightly wound feel as Lindsey Buckingham's frenzied work on Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, or how "I'm Thinking" reworks the riff from Status Quo's "Pictures of Matchstick Men" — that keeps the record from being predictable. There's no denying that Nexterday was deliberately made on a small scale: not only was it essentially homemade, but the songs are minimalist pop — they're catchy, but the clean lines and quiet nature of the production requires active participation from the listener. At this point, some 20 years after the peak of the Cars' popularity, Ocasek's audience is small and faithful, willing to take the effort to get to know a new record, and once they spend some time with Nexterday, they'll find this is another charming, ingratiating, low-key record from an artist whose solo career has pretty much been devoted to charming, ingratiating, low-key records.


Born: 23 March 1949 in Baltimore, MD

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Although he's best known as the leader, singer, rhythm guitarist, and songwriter for the Cars, Ric Ocasek has also produced for a wide variety of other artists over the years. Born Richard Otcasek in Baltimore, MD, on March 23, 1949, Otcasek was 16 when he became interested in music via such early rockers as Buddy Holly & the Crickets. In the early '70s, Otcasek moved from Cleveland to Boston and began playing in a folk band called Milkwood with friend Ben Orzechowski. They released a lone, forgotten...
Full Bio