Guster's latest album release (Ganging Up On The Sun) from this past summer has proven to be a "grower" of an album, improving considerably upon subsequent listens. As such, the release of the Satellite EP seems particularly timely, highlighting the excellent songwriting, performance, and production values from a well-loved group during a prolific period. Here's what your ten-spot gets you:
1.) Satellite - the terrific second track (and a highlight) of GUOTS, featuring hypnotic double-tracked vocals, electric guitars, and a memorable keyboard riff. Hopefully this will fuel some more album purchases.
2.) G Major - the major reason for this release, as fans had been clamoring for this song ever since news of its exclusion from GUOTS. The lyrics are clearly but cleverly political, and the simple beat coupled with some interesting orchestration make it a great repeat listen. Don't know if it would have improved the flow of the album, but I'm grateful it's officially available.
3.) Rise & Shine - an uncharacteristically underproduced track with moody lyrics and simple but effective percussion from Brian Rosenworcel. Pleasant, but the most fillerish of the GUOTS outtakes.
4.) Timothy Leary - Plays like the great lost lead-off track from GUOTS, and it's the one outtake that I would argue really belonged on the album. As the title indicates, it's lyrically defiant, but more importantly, it's musically tight and driving. I'm not well-read enough to know if the chorus ("One single voice makes a deafening sound/You can be anything this time around") does indeed come from Leary, but it's a great song regardless of your politics. The omission of this and G Major indicate a conscious decision to keep GUOTS more reservedly topical.
5.) I'm Through - The early version of another GUOTS highlight (C'Mon), this song is not without its own charms, particularly the beautiful chorus and a little bit of old-school conga percussion. However, the re-cast version is tighter and a bit more enduring.
6.) Satellite (The Astronaut's Remix)- a rare beast indeed, as I prefer this remix to the album version. The Astronauts embellish the track with a "spacy" beat, some pizzicato parts during the interludes, and apparently bring Adam Gardner's voice way up in the mix. As Gardner has sadly been relegated to backing singer status on the last couple albums, any chance to hear his warm baritone is welcome.
7.) Two Of Us (live)- Guster takes on The Beatles, with a stripped-down, slightly countrified take on a song that was always pretty simple. Ryan Miller and Gardner are obviously not Paul and John, but this radio performance is definitely listenable. And features some more whistling for those who love All The Way Up To Heaven and Red Oyster Cult.
8.) Total Eclipse Of The Heart (live)- We love Guster because of things like ending the CD with this track. Percussionist/fan's best friend Rosenworcel steps up to the mic on this concert encore, and lovingly savages it. A very funny listen.
God bless Guster for releasing this, and it's a testament to their talents that their leftovers constitute the core of such an enjoyable CD. Hopefully demand will result in another volume containing the demos featured on the GUOTS vinyl release and a least one more oft-requested outtake, Emily Ivory.