"Approaching Normal" (Universal Records; 2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Houston, Texas was the birth place of Blue October. My stint in Houston was anything but blue ... it was hot! The music that this band plays is alternative because of the guitar, post-grunge because of the moody lyrics but, most of all, it's experimental rock. The lead singer, Justin Furstenfeld, sounds more like Roger Daltrey or Peter Gabriel when he sings. He almost talk sings like he's telling a story or having a conversation with somebody ... hence, the "experimental" adjective.

The music is quite different from what I thought it would be. It was produced by Steve Lillywhite who has links with bands such as U2, Peter Gabriel and Matchbox Twenty. That should give you an idea of how the stories are told and how they are presented; a melancholy vocal approach is felt with each track.

Sometimes there are strings in the background, sometimes it's a piano, but the rock aspect never really comes upfront. The included booklet has the lyrics - they are depressing in spots and "Approaching Normal" may take longer than I'm willing to wait.

Blue October: Justin Furstenfeld - vocals, guitar; Jeremy Furstenfeld - drums, percussion; Ryan Delahoussaye - violin, mandolin, keyboard, vocals; C.B. Hudson - guitar, vocals; Matt Noveskey - bass and acoustic guitars, vocals.

For more information, check out or

"Argue with a Tree" (Brando; 2004)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I've said this before: live albums are lost on me. I get them, I know that a band wants to play live and "capture" the raw power within but, unless I've heard the studio version, I don't want to hear the live version any more.

I reviewed "Approaching Normal" and I really didn't care for the lyrical delivery of Justin because I require a singer to sing. Justin is more of a presenter of the song; he's got his own style it's just not my favorite.

This live CD does have great production and the music sounds really good. Justin talks to the crowd before each song and tells the history behind it or just tells you what CD it's from. They play all the songs from their first four albums live.

There is a DVD that is available with extra footage of their fans confessing how Blue October's music changed their lives. Sound checks, extra songs and various radio stints are also on the DVD.

The live band: Justin Furstenfeld - lead vocals, rhythm guitar; Jeremy Furstenfeld - drums, backing vocals; C.B. Hudson - lead guitar, backing vocals; Ryan Delahoussaye - violin, mandolin, keyboard, backing vocals; Piper Dagnino - bass guitar, midi pedals, backing vocals; Zayra Alvarez vocals.

For more information, check out or

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


Back to CD Reviews Home

Back to Home

Copyright 2010 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 25 Feb 2019 21:42:46 -0500 .