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There's no looking back for Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror'Rearview Mirror'Independent

Few local bands have endured as much success as RearviewMirror.

The Cresco, Iowa, natives got their big break in 2000. Acclaimedproducer Steve Lillywhite discovered the rock group and eventuallyguided them through the recording of their 2002 major label debut"All Lights Off."

The album earned vocalist Adam Ptacek, bassist Jason Ptacek,guitarist Matt Olson and original drummer T.J. Kammer a hit radiosingle, plenty of local exposure and many big shows with the likesof Nonpoint, Flickerstick, Days of the New, Sevendust and P.O.D.Unfortunately, Rearview Mirror's fire didn't last as long asexpected and they found themselves back in the independent musicscene after Palm Pictures dropped them in December. On top of that,Kammer parted ways with the band a few months earlier. Everythingseemed to be falling apart, but things aren't always as theyseem.

The new disc, simply titled "Rearview Mirror," is a fresh startfor the band. This time they are doing things their way, without arecord label and without studio time. The new album introduces newdrummer Andy Blessing. His energetic approach to drumming alongwith Adam Ptacek now playing rhythm guitar gives the group a morewell-rounded sound. Right from the beginning, (unlike the polished"In the Beginning") Rearview displays a raw and unperfected stylethat remains constant throughout the album with the addictivelyupbeat track "The Scenery."

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Olson didn't mind explaining via e-mail that recording most ofthe album at home with only four microphones plugged into an oldstereo tape deck from the '70s was the key in capturing the loosesound of the album. It becomes obvious that by turning thedistortion down and their songwriting up, the band just appears tobe having a lot more fun now. Catchier tunes like "Miss Mary" and"Last Song" showcase the band's energy while staying with lighterguitar parts and heavier melody.

"Rearview Mirror" just has more depth to offer than any previousrelease. The slower, guitar-driven "No War, No More" would seem tobe a political statement regarding the war in Iraq. However, withsome critical, yet totally ambiguous lyrics, the song could beinterpreted as the band reflecting on the messy departure of theirformer drummer. The rest of the band contributes various vocalharmonies that add to Ptaceck's sing-along choruses in songs like"No War" and "C.O.G."

In fact the blistering and powerful "C.O.G." (listed as"Cartwheels On Gravy" on set lists) continues RVM's trend of doingthings their way with the chorus, "We don't just wanna be high/Wedon't search for peace of mind."

"Spectacular Moon" is also an unexpected favorite. It soundsunlike any of the other tracks as it uniquely progresses andeventually erupts with a euphoric ending. Songs like these twocouldn't have been possible on "All Lights Off." They are toodiverse and highlight their growth as musicians.

Olson elaborated on the variations in albums, saying "thedifference between this album and previous one is that all themusic was done with no over dubs and only occupied one track.Basically, how you hear it is exactly how we played it."

Tracks such as "Hopeless," "My Advice" and "Maud" underline thetwo best attributes of the band: Olson's masterful guitar parts andAdam Ptacek's amazingly unique voice. (No, he doesn't sound thatmuch like Eddie Vedder or Scott Stapp anymore!)

Raw and real, the new effort from Rearview Mirror isoutstanding. Maybe it will be enough to get them the recognitionthey deserve as talented musicians with another major labelcontract. Support local music and get it. "Rearview Mirror" isdefinitely worth a listen. It is available at shows or throughe-mail at rvm@rock.com.

I give it 5 of 5 stars.

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Adam Wiltgen is a senior at Fillmore Central High School. Torespond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, categoryTEEN (8336); write Teen Beat, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118,Rochester, MN 55903-6118 or send e-mail toteenbeat@postbulletin.com.

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