Guster is one of those independent music “local boy makes good” stories. Getting together in 1992 at Tufts University, the trio became a sensation in the Boston area, going on to sell more than 25,000 copies of their self-released debut album and more than 20,000 of this record, Goldfly, since its initial release a year ago.
Of course, it somewhat makes sense in light of Guster’s style. Sort of a Ben Folds Five, Thanks to Gravity, Dave Matthews Band group, they touch on the hippie sensibility without sinking to extended jam psychedelia. Fans of this style tend to be admirably dedicated to their bands. Admittedly, I was ready to write these guys off initially as a bit cliched. But seeing them live was enough to make me listen to this record a little bit more. When a band like this can pull off a NIN cover live, it merits a second look.
Certainly, the hook of the group is really their drummer, Brian Rosenworcel, who plays the bongos with a decidedly energetic fervor. Their songs are generally catchy, built around the acoustic guitar, bass, bongos formula. The bass is sometimes used in a rather unique way for such a harmony laden acoustic group. It can be harsh and driving, not full of funky noodling that seems the norm for this style. Songs like “Great Escape” and “Airport Song” use this style to great effect.
Some of the music falls into the rather unexciting category, but there are enough unique qualities to this band and Goldfly to merit a listen. Sure, they might be the Bongos Folds Five, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.