CD Review of Brighter Side by Five Times August
Recommended if you like
John Mayer, Teddy Geiger,
Jason Mraz
Label
self-released
Five Times August:
Brighter Side

Reviewed by Mike Farley

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I
t shows you how screwed up the music industry is when you start hearing what is clearly major-label music disguised as something independent – especially when the press release touts said music as being independent, because said industry is, well, screwed up. Lucky for you that just have to find this stuff and buy it, label or not, which is why when you find Five Times August’s new one, Brighter Side, you should buy it. Not because it’s been shoved down your throat, or even that you read about it here, but because it’s just plain good. That is, if hooky pop is your thing.

Five Times August is the moniker of singer/songwriter Brad Skistimas, a Dallas native who has about as much twang in his music as Tony Romo has Super Bowl rings. (Giants fan says “OOOH, snap.”) What Skistimas does right is follow his heart and take advantage of his knack for bright melodies and a God-given talent for making instantly listenable music. Don’t be fooled—there is a formula here, it’s just that it came naturally.

The songs on Brighter Side don’t really vary as much as Skistimas claims they do – rather, his tenor is pretty steady throughout. And though it sounds like one long song with varied tempos, it’s a damn good song. “Giving It All to You” and “Overrated” are bouncy pop tracks that are so made for TV, they have probably already been placed somewhere. And the “One Tree Hill” camp will swoon over pretty tracks like “Surface” and “The Lighting,” or the Jason Mraz-ish “Sentimental Spell.” Then there is the money track – “It’s Not Over,” and if you believe in the magic of Matchbox Twenty’s “Hang,” you’ll fall in love with this song and let it find its way onto your own mixes.

It probably won’t be long before some label decides to throw a bunch of money at Five Times August, because it’s about as can’t-miss as any recent independent release. Or maybe Mr. Skistimas is part of a new wave of artists who realize they don’t need a label to bankroll them, and that they can put more money in their own pocket if they have the talent and a bit of marketing know-how. Five Times August definitely has the talent, and Brighter Side is 12 tracks of proof.

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