Goldrush - Ozona (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Ozona (2005)

Better Looking

Certain periods in time are just far more interesting than others, that's inevitable. The Roman Empire, ancient Egypt, and the United States about the time of the American Revolution are far more interesting than say...the 1980's. No disrespect meant to Dee Snider or the rest of Twisted Sister, but the 80's are just more or less a decade the country could have done without. The gold rush period of the 1840's proved to be one of the crazier decades in history, and over 150 years later, there are still some areas of the country that culturally, and technologically, have not moved on. Ozona, Texas, proved to be one such town. And it was from an encounter here while the band Goldrush was fresh out of gas and time that they drew some inspiration for their album title bearing the town's name, and a lot of the stories the songs are telling.

Goldrush's sound isn't so easy to pin down. It's indie rock, yes, but much of the backbone in these songs has a very distinct Southern rock accent to it. Not country -- there's no traces of redneck in these songs, but just enough Southern flavor sprinkled throughout various points in the album to give it a real strong identity. It very much depends on the individual song, as they very between crunchy and raw in spots, and the light, dreamy indie rock that populates the majority of the album. Singer Robin Bennett's pristinely clear voice guides this album through some rough patches that slow down the overall pace of things, and puts them back on the right track. Gardener has the kind of voice that comes across as beautiful, without it ever seeming like he's even trying to hit a note. It works well for the music that's backing him, and the composition of the album as a whole.

That music that Gardener depends on can either have a really bouncy feel to it, such as the bass-driven "Wait for the Wheels," or it can sound like the far more subdued and mellow "Each Moment in Time." Songs such as "There's a World" seemingly start off quiet enough, but the song actually ends with some solid guitar soloing with reverb echoing in the background. Elements like that provide a good contrast to individual songs, and help to give the songs their own identity, rather than just namelessly meshing together.

Unlike being in Texas, this record will just give you a good feeling when you listen to it. The instrumentation isn't simple or extravagant, but it really fits. Each musician can fill their own specific niche while contributing to an overall uniform sound. But the driving force behind Ozona, tight as the musicianship may be, is Bennett's vocal performance. Bennett manages to sound equal parts vulnerable and powerful, while never sacrificing the innocence of what he's singing about. As these songs show, simplicity and a strong sense of melody can carry a band a long way.

Goldrush may not have captured the destitution that many prospectors faced once they got out to California during the time of the gold rush, but what they did manage to capture is a strong sense of self and the fun that five friends can have when they break down in some hick town in Texas, but with more teeth and less whiskey.