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Guster
GUSTER ON ICE
(Palm Pictures/Reprise)
Stars graphics

Recorded at a performance in Portland, Maine (and released on the heels of their 2003 album Keep It Together), Guster on Ice succeeds only in exposing the Boston-based trioís utter mediocrity when it comes to making music without the studio crutches of vocal auto-tuners and click tracks, as well as their unsettling inability to adjust their arrangements for a live setting. In "Red Oyster Cult," itís tough to decide which is worse, the amount of time it takes vocalist Ryan Miller to find his pitch or the flagrantly inappropriate trumpet and saxophone riffs. Equally offputting is the poorly synthesized string section on the lamentably epic "Come Downstairs and Say Hello," and the uninspired organ solo in the middle of "I Spy." The included DVD confirms oneís suspicion that the screaming crowd is made up almost entirely of fad-chasing 15-year-old girls, and their incessant chanting (placed too high in the mix) gives off more of a Barney-the-Dinosaur sing-along vibe than anything else. The band do just fine when they keep it short and sweet (as on "Demons," a hit from their 1996 release Goldfly), but this CD/DVD package ultimately suggests that Guster are indeed "on ice," and thin ice at that.

BY ADAM GOLD


Issue Date: June 4 - 10, 2004
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