Last I saw Guster, it was backing up Peter Frampton on "Do You Feel Like We Do" at the Jammy Awards in New York. The quartet, whose adventures have led it from Boston to Brooklyn, then embarked on a 31-date Campus Consciousness Tour. Last year the bandmates recorded their fifth album in Nashville, under the co-production guidance of newest member Joe Pisapia, who adds banjo, dulcimer, lap-steel guitar, and trumpet to Guster's musical palette.
Perhaps due to Pisapia's influence, Guster has evolved from a power-pop pseudo jam band to a full-service alt-country unit. The best songs on Ganging Up on the Sun bristle with twang and melodies. From the single "One Man Wrecking Crew" to the Jackson Browne lilt of "C'Mon" to "The Captain" (practically bluegrass), Guster harks back to the more harmonious '70s for inspiration.
The band skanks on "The New Underground" and really goes for it on the seven-minute "Ruby Falls," which features the band -- Adam Gardner, Ryan Miller, Brian Rosenworcel and Pisapia -- digging deep in a Floyd-meets-the-Beach Boys workout.