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Stories of a Stranger

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Album Review

O.A.R. leapt to the majors in 2003 with In Between Now and Then, but the move didn't change their longstanding commitment to touring. The live show built their audience and crafted their sound; why would Atlantic's logo on their record change that? Ultimately, 2005's Stories of a Stranger doesn't change O.A.R.'s organic, homespun approach to pop, either. But it definitely refines it along the way, bringing the Maryland combo firmly into the adult alternative fold. Live, these songs will still have potential for jam band elasticity. But on Stories they're tightly wound, showing off Marc Roberge's dry vocal and urgent turns of melody. "Heard the World," "Daylight the Dog," and "Love and Memories" are full of guitar and yearning, like a less self-righteous Switchfoot or wordier Goo Goo Dolls. "Memories" in particular is a departure for O.A.R. — co-written by Roberge with hired gun Glen Ballard, it amplifies every part of the band's sound, nearly guaranteeing a radio hit. There's quieter material here — Jerry DePizzo's saxophone shines in the languid "Nasim Joon" — and the band's knack for light and breezy island-flavored pop breathes in "Lay Down," "One Shot," "Program Director," and the irresistible "Wonderful Day." And yet it's the slick, gently insistent "The Stranger" (with backing vocals from Toby Lightman) that feels more representative of Stories of a Stranger. It's clear that Roberge is moving toward songs that will tell a story, make you smile, or make you think, but also have real appeal for casual listeners. There's nothing wrong with that — O.A.R. proved their live mettle a long time ago, and they remain curious, crafty songwriters. Stories of a Stranger just presents everything that defines O.A.R. in a more concise package.

Customer Reviews

C'mon O.A.R.... C'mon

I've been a big O.A.R. fan for a long time now, and I've loved every new CD that they have come out with... until this one. Apparently the time came for O.A.R. to sell out, like many bands do. However, I can't think of another band that has strayed as far from their roots as this one. If listened to the CD with no idea who it was, you couldn't have convinced me that it was O.A.R. His voice isn't even the same anymore. They came to my college campus at Creighton, and they're still a jam band, but there was a lot missing in the new songs. They ought to change their name while they're at it. It seems like they are really trying to appeal to the teenage girl crowd. I saw them on TRL, and they were introduced by New Found Glory as the next new band on the scene. No allegence I have to O.A.R. could make me like this album. To say that I am disappointed would be an understatement. I am actually angry. I hope they enjoy their emergence into the pop world, because they've lost at least one person who has been a fan of theirs for many years.

You've Gotta Be Kidding Me

This album doesn't even sound like the band we've all come to know and love...It sounds like a bad day in pop hell !!! What happened to the roots/rock formula that o.a.r. built their fan base on??? I don't know about the rest of you, but I am in shock that they turned to radio friendly, lame touchy-feely lyrics and overproduced poppy choruses with some chic whining in the background (i.e. the stranger). A plea to the band: Stick to the formula!!! Change is not always bad but this is a worst case scenario.

This album is incredible and addictive from beginning to end.

These guys definitely display amazing talent with every song and this hands down my favorite album of 2005. From the upbeat reggae-tinged melodies of Wonderful Day and Lay Down to the provocative, slide guitar masterpiece Heard the World, O.A.R. have a knack for delivering with an array of styles and sounds. Nasim Joon is full of smokey jazz club sax riffs that blend perfectly with the lead singer's raspy pack-a-day voice, and that winning combination continues, albeit kicked up a couple of notches, on Tragedy In Waiting. The bands' talents truly shine on the pseudo-title track The Stranger and the musical love-letter 52-50, which delivers it's message along a funk-filled meandering journey across the world. A fitting end to these "Stories" that are told through a blend of funky reggae-filled roots rock that is so pleasing, it can only be described as....revolutionary.


Formed: 1996 in Rockville, MD

Genre: Rock

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

O.A.R. (an acronym for the band's full moniker, Of a Revolution) transformed itself from an independent college band to a Billboard chart-topper over the course of a long, varied career. First, two of the band's demo recordings were hawked on university campuses. Then, news spread about the band's roots rock and reggae-inflected songs, which owed much to the jam band genre. Before long, O.A.R.'s website had turned into a highly trafficked Internet destination, and the group gradually left the college...
Full Bio
Stories of a Stranger, O.A.R.
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Adult Alternative, Jam Bands
  • Released: Oct 04, 2005

Customer Ratings