Oh Tahoe

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When Beezewax emerged with Oh Tahoe, they were virtually unknown outside of indie circles even though their first album already was five years away. Sadly, in spite of scoring a big radio hit in their native country with the slightly uncharacteristic ballad "The Brighton Concorde," they did not gain the major breakthrough they had deserved. Despite the thick-sounding, heavily distorted guitars and the lively drum pounding of Stian Rosnes being aurally dominant features, Beezewax's sound is that of warmth; as one usually says when one harks back to the early '70s, it sounds organic. Comparisons with American '70s power pop bands like the omnipresent Big Star and later acts such as Hüsker Dü and Buffalo Tom are inevitable, and there are even traces of classic Beach Boys in the vocal harmonies. They manage to play the "power" part of it convincingly with very tight arrangements at the core of the majority of the record, while the sheer sweetness of Kenneth Ishak's high-pitched voice and melodious songs never allows the rock elements to fully take control. The aforementioned "The Brighton Concorde" is an obvious standout. Its waltz-timed piano riff sets it apart not only from the Beezewax songbook, but the majority of pop songs made today. Add a beautifully melancholic vocal melody, lush backing vocals, and some subtle horn arrangements to that, and you've got yourself something of a modern pop classic. The more traditional power pop tracks like "Good Luck & Goodbye" and "Big Bad Car" are also impressive in every way, catchy, played with a matchless intra-band dynamic, tastefully produced and recorded. That being said, though, the main objection is that -- as an entire album -- it gets a bit too samey to be a genuine classic, but it is indeed a very fine record that should not be overlooked.

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