After kicking off their career with “Boston,” a power ballad that took its cues from the Coldplay songbook, Augustana began to recast themselves as heartland rock & rollers. Released in 2008, Can’t Love, Can’t Hurt found them midway through that transition, but 2011’s Augustana -- the band’s self-titled third album -- completes the evolution, jettisoning the tenderhearted piano pop that filled All the Stars and Boulevards and replacing it with guitar-driven, chest-swelling anthems. Bruce Springsteen’s influence looms large, from the quaver of Dan Layus’ vocals to the Americana bombast of “Steal Your Heart” and “Wrong Side of Love,” two tunes that resurrect Born to Run’s grandeur with glockenspiels, gang vocals, and the panoramic production of Kings of Leon collaborator Jacquire King.
Sometimes the American rock dream isn’t always all it’s cracked up to be. Just ask Augustana. The San Diego rock outfit saw moderate success in 2005 with their piano-driven ballad “Boston”, which cracked the top 40, got some play on various television programs, and featured an accessible sound much in the vein of the Fray or Coldplay. Unfortunately, the single did little to propel their debut album, All the Stars and Boulevards, to success.
Review Summary: By the sounds of it, Augustana have aged twenty years in a mere three years time. Singer Dan Layus attributes the change to be heard in his voice on Augustana’s self-titled to his own maturing over the time from numerous years of touring and writing music. It’s a stronger, more developed tone, he states in the band’s recent interview with Absolutepunk, that can now be heard overtop a sound that the band says is that of belonging to the true Augustana on their new album, which is more or less an exercise in contemporary light-weight southern rock, that's all.
After a three-year absence, Dan Layus and company return with their third Epic full-length, simply titled Augustana. The album begins with Layus declaring “I’m gonna steal your heart away,” on lead-off single “Steal Your Heart,” which was co-written and produced by former Phantom Planet member Sam Farrar. The San Diego rock band broke through in 2005 with their major label debut All the Stars and Boulevards, which was produced by Brendan O’Brien (Stone Temple Pilots, Train), and included the hit “Boston.” After gaining some musical prominence, Augustana seemed to lose their musical identity, but fortunately found it again and triumphantly return with new focus and clarity on this latest offering.