Oogee Wawa – More Sand than Money
These guys are putting us on a little and it’s all good. Oogee Wawa would like for you to believe that they are about have good times and spreading positive energy through their music and that’s certainly true. They never claim that’s all they do, but their album More Sand than Money clearly reveals the Long Island based four piece as far more sophisticated musicians and players than they trumpet. It’s part of their appeal and manifests itself in assorted ways throughout the album’s 12 tracks. These aren’t sullen virtuoso musicians or impassioned social critics. The songs are unvarnished glimpses into their lives and draw from the comedic and serious alike in varying amounts. There’s also tremendous character that comes through in their music and lyrics. Few tracks embody like the opener “Let It Out”. Oogee Wawa contrasts full-time stresses of balancing “real life” obligations with the life of a professional musician and finds that the heart ache, worry, and disappointments are worth it when it’s time to go onstage. The reggae influence is strong, but the musicians infuse it with a rock bite. They turn to much more melodic fare on the second track, “Pretty”, one of the album’s earliest examples of the band’s songwriting potential. The song’s ability to give listeners a multi-dimensional speaker and meaningful lyrical content over a much more traditional reggae track is quite impressive. “More Sand than Money” follows the melodic path of its predecessor and peaks with an instantly memorable chorus, but other elements stand out. The biting guitar fills and fluid rhythm section playing make all things possible here and the vocal tops it off superbly.
“Jump Off” flames and zips past listeners with crackling energy. More likely than not, the track will resonate with the over 30 set because this is another song seemingly about one thing, but as the chorus makes clear with its strongly worded payoff line, it’s more about peering back on lost youth. “Damage Baggage” is a rollicking, punk rock crossed with quasi-ska riff on poorly chosen women. There’s an unusual amount of venom dripping from the barbed portrayal, but it never crosses any lines. “Feelin’ Alive Today” breaks through like sunshine on a cloudy day after the hard-bitten vibe of its predecessor. It’s rare that modern songs ever strike on an original sing-a-long for their potential live audiences that doesn’t sound constructed to the tenth degree, but “Feelin’ Alive Today” rises with real organic life and will make many people happy. The band proves themselves supreme stylists able to dispatch convincing reggae without ever sounding too imitative.
They strike comedic gold again with “Tips”, a track assured of resonating with any frequent bar patron still hanging on around last call. It’s a much more theatrical number than many of the others thanks to the introduction of spoken word passages and sound effects, but the bells and whistles add rather than detract from the song’s quality. “Pack the Van” ends the album on a suitably laid back note. It’s a wise decision to bring More Sand than Money to a gentle, unassuming conclusion rather than indulging a final time in the band’s genuine talent for bluster.
If this is a band being a little playful with listeners, then let all bands be so playful. It isn’t a perfect album by any means and doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but music lovers of every stripe should be grateful and enjoy any band with such a multi-faceted approach to songwriting and performing. More Sand than Money from Oogee Wawa is an outstanding full length debut.
8 out of 10 stars