Thursday, August 23, 2007

Music Review: Five Times August - The Independent (l.p.)

The first thing which impressed me about Five Times August is that it is a totally independent act unsigned with any record label, and yet it has achieved more than most other albums that have signed with record labels.

Five Times August is actually a one-man project by Brad Skistimas. His birthday is on August 5th and the project was named based on the thought that it would be easier to remember Five Times August, than the name Brad Skistimas. I beg to differ however, Skistimas' name is not one I will soon forget.

Five Times August's achievements are truly remarkable. His first album, originally titled Fry Street, has sold more than 100,000 digital downloads online and 11,000 CD's throughout North America and Europe, and nine of the albums' songs had been featured on popular television shows like Laguna Beach and One Tree Hill.

A remixed and remastered version of his first album, aptly retitled The Independent was released just a few days ago, on August 7, 2007, to be distributed from Wal-Mart stores nationwide. The album consists of two discs; which includes a bonus disc of acoustic sessions, and 26 tracks; fourteen tracks on the main disc, including three bonus tracks, and twelve tracks on the bonus acoustic disc.

If I could use only one word to describe Five Times August, it would be unique. Skistimas has a very unique playing style with the guitar, and my boyfriend, who is a very talented guitarist himself, was very impressed with Skistimas' style. I agreed with him, but not only on the guitar style. Everything about his songs were unique; the lyrics, the melody, everything. Each song was so uniquely different from each other, and all so very special in their own right, that it was hard choosing favourites.

The nine songs which had been featured on television shows, "Better With You", "First Time For Everything", "Roll Into You", "Do It Again", "Save It For Later", "The Way You Do", "So Typical", "Up To Me", and "Wherever" were all very good, and it's not hard to understand why they were featured. You can hear the full songs here.

Unlike other albums, where I usually had a few tracks I really liked, and others that I just skipped over, there were none here that I wanted to skip. I liked them all, and I honestly couldn't choose just a few favourites. If I had to choose just one though, it would be the bonus track, "Most Uncommon Thing". It is hauntingly beautiful and profound, and touches me in a magical place in my heart.

The thing I liked most about The Independent and Skistimas' exceptionally talented songwriting skills, was that each and every song had a story to tell. And I don't mean the lyrics. I mean the music. Each song has a story embedded in its music; a beginning, middle, and end, a climax, a lull, a peak, and a calm. There were so much dynamics in the music, and so many surprises, because sometimes you think the story is going one way, and all of a sudden it changes directions. It is just wonderful how Skistimas has managed to manipulate music like putty in his hands.

I could spend hours discussing each song, but I suspect that would take more than just a few hours and may even take a few months. I have so much to say about them, but I believe that each person has to interpret the songs their own way. The only thing I have left to say is that Five Times August has stolen my heart, and I am now a lovesick fan who will be anxiously awaiting more of his music. There are plans for a new album to be released in early 2008, and you can be sure I will be one of the first to acquire it.


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