Ozma - Spending Time On The Borderline (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Spending Time On The Borderline (2003)

Kung Fu

Ozma has been pegged for years as a cheap Weezer imitation. While both bands do share many things in common - an unhealthy obsession of foreign culture [Weezer with Asia, Ozma with Russia], powerful, chunky guitar riffs, a fascination with MOOGs - I detect something more there. Listening to the band's newest release, "Spending Time On The Borderline," I don't hear Weezer as much as I hear Cheap Trick.

Yeah, that's right, Cheap Trick. One of the greatest, yet most underappreciated, rock bands of our time [not to mention they're from my hometown and I know all their kids]. Ozma's opening track, "Spending Time," is chock full of so much 70s bombast that it would have sounded great live at Budokan. Sure, there's some MOOG in there, but Weezer this is not.

The band then takes two completely different stylistic turns with the next two songs, "Your Name" and "Come Home Andrea." The former is a moody, soft ballad comparable to something like Elliott Smith, and the latter is almost an alt-country song, reminding me of earlier Wilco or maybe the Jayhawks. So far, this album is all over the map, and I like it like that.

The album's single, "Bad Dogs," is as hard rock as this band has ever been. To be fair, this does sound like Weezer.

A lot.

Moving on - Some of the material on this album dates back to the band's first tour with Weezer in 2001, as I remember hearing "Eponine" live in Milwaukee and being blown away by the song. Finally, the track makes it to an album [along with other long time fan favorite "Game Over"], but it lost a bit of it's shine over the past 2 years. It's still a great track, and fun as hell to belt out "OOOOOH! My Eponine / can't you hear the words I sing / can't you hear the woooooooooords I sing" as you drive down the street.

The instrumentation on this album is rather impressive. Keyboardist Star Wick once again picks up the flute on some songs for a new-jazz flavor, and the band drops string arrangements in a handful of tracks, as well as marching drums [in the aforementioned "Bad Dogs"]. The group is still stuck in a "pop" mode, but they seem to be experimenting as much as they can under their pre-defined role as a band.

I have never been the biggest fan of this band [writing them off after they opened for Weezer, and only owning "Rock and Roll Part 3" because I got it for free], but after this album, they've definitely piqued my interest. The band's past has been cemented in geek rock history, but tracks like "Curve In the Old 1-9" shows me that Ozma is just getting started. I, for one, am looking forward to seeing what they do next.

Bad Dogs
Game Over

Bad Dogs