I've been meaning to post some CD reviews ever since starting my blog. As I've mentioned in the past, I do have a Rhapsody account, so I'm no stranger to the digital album format, but there's something owning the physical product that no amount of technology will deter me from. Anything that I listen to for a length of time on my Sandisk player is in line for a store purchase, usually one or two a week is my limit.
That being said, the latest effort from Collective Soul is not available on Rhapsody, or in many stores. Due to an exclusive distribution deal with Target, Afterwords takes a little tracking down. Fortunately, our town has a Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy and Circuit City, all within a stone's throw of each other.
Let me say right from the start that this is an album worth looking for. Their last album, Youth, was one of my favorite discs of 2004, and the hits just keep on coming. Forming their own record label, El Records, seems to have rejuvenated the band after the comparatively lackluster Blender (2001) and overly ambitious Dosage (1999). A couple of personnel changes have done the band no harm, and band leader Ed Roland still has the songwriting chops in spades. First single "Hollywood" is a great example, at once resoundingly familiar but still vibrant and melodic. When they put their minds to it, no one makes better driving music - there's a grin-inducing vertigo to all their best work.
Elsewhere, there's all the trademark touches. Crowd favorite "Georgia Girl" makes it to the studio, and the closing track "Adored" is deft mid-tempo ballad of the kind they do better than most. Strong choruses abound, such as those of "Bearing Witness" and the thumping opener "New Vibration". Perhaps the best touch (and most uncharacteristic) is the track voiced by guitarist Joel Kosche, "I Don't Need Anymore Friends", which changes the pace nicely about halfway through the album.
Similar to Youth, Afterwords is a comparatively brief affair, clocking in at around 40 minutes. But as such, it doesn't outstay it's welcome and leaves a good taste in the ears. From early listens, I would say that Youth probably just edges this one out overall it's definitely up there with their best work. Once again, Collective Soul deliver the goods.
Stream the album for free at http://www.collectivesoul.com