Pop project is soundtrack-slick package
Reviewed February 2010
Life As a Song
By Five Times August
Seven Places Music: 2009
To hear sound clips or learn more about this release, Turbula recommends viewing its Amazon.com entry.
Five Times August is a project built around singer/writer/one-man band Brad Skistimas, a Dallas pop artist who has had some luck with self-released discs and singles, having several placed on soundtracks for MTV and other television shows. "Life As a Song" is his new one, an independent release that is a sort of retrospective of songs written from 2002 to 2008, some re-recordings of songs from previous DIY discs.
The sound is both soft and power pop, with most of the non-rhythm instruments being played by Skistimas, with plenty of cello and string programming. Some tracks are an unmistakably glossy revisit to the sound of John Mayer.
The songs are light, with "Better With You" a conventional but catchy song that instantly sounds like it should have a TV screen nearby running in slow-mo while it plays. "Wherever" and "Love the Way" are similar softies that bounce off, but "Up to Me" is dynamic, breaking out of quiet verses with powerful flourishes and a good hook. The best power pop tune is "Beautiful Girls," which rocks more briskly than the other cuts on the disc and has fun with the lyrics; this song (like a few others) overuses strings, but little harm is done. There are plenty of soft pop tunes, the ballad "Break" might be the best, as it builds well from vocals with piano to swelling crescendos.
With "Life as a Song," Five Times August makes music that is slick and soundtrack-friendly. There isn't much of a beat or an edge, but there isn't supposed to be.
Review by Frank Kocher, a longtime San Diego resident, musician, music collector and frequent contributor to The San Diego Troubadour.