For all of its bands and records, the Militia Group tends to only really get lucky once a year. Last year, it was the beautiful, lush indie-pop of Copeland. This year, it's the addictive, bouncy post-hardcore/pop-rock of Reeve Oliver. Yeah, it sounds bizarre, but one listen and you'll agree that this is about all Reeve Oliver can be categorized as.
The San Diego trio's frontman, Sean O'Donnell, has a voice that is as strong and colorful as J. Robbins of Jawbox/Burning Airlines/Channels fame, but instead of retreading the same territory that Robbins and Co. mapped out in the mid-nineties, O'Donnell guides Reeve Oliver down the power-pop route, with heavy Foo Fighters and early-Weezer influences every which where on the album. So essentially you have the intensity of a quality DC post-punk band mixed with the (ever-popular rock critic term) "pop sensibility" of the best the nineties had to offer.
The opening pair of "I Want Burns" and "I Don't Want To Know" show the band's poppier side almost instantly -- these songs could be in the next teen sex comedy, just for their sheer catchiness delivered by clever harmonies and well-placed handclaps. You can just picture "the gang" cruising up to the beach in their Jeep and scoping out their romantic prospects right as the songs wrap up. Immediately after, "Young And Dumb" fuses some of the crunchiest guitar parts I've ever heard surrounding a hypnotic Jawbox-esque melody. Even though the album was recorded by O'Donnell himself, it was mixed by Mark Trombino, and the overall sonic quality of the record represents this quite obviously.
The band's diversity within the pop-rock genre on these 11 tracks is rather impressive. To make the jump from the rocking, upbeat "On The Floor" to the jangly "Yer Motion" (containing perfect uses of falsetto) to the subdued acoustics of "An Offer She Can't Refuse" further showcase the band's strong songwriting skill as well as knowing just what instrument should be where and when. As this record plays out, you just get the feeling that these songs have been cooking up in O'Donnell's head for years; this is the record he's been dying to make, and he's succeeded.
Now be forewarned - regardless of all the influences present on this record ranging from post-hardcore heroes to geek-rock inventors, this is a pop record at heart. As such, the songs are about girls. Nothing groundbreaking there, but even still, O'Donnell sings with such passion and conviction that Reeve Oliver's debut album is leaps and bounds above virtually any band who you would consider their contemporary. Watch this band closely, because only an act of God would prevent these guys from blowing up.
I Want Burns [clip]
I Want Burns
I Don't Want To Know
Young And Dumb