Music » Livewire

O.A.R.

Wednesday, February 8, at Wolstein Center.

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There may be no more divisive band on the touring circuit than O.A.R., a group of former Ohio State frat boys who are also one of rock music's most successful grassroots stories. Ardent fans argue that O.A.R. is Dave Matthews' next of kin, playing sensitive, saxophone-laced rock that fits both on commercial radio and at Bonnaroo; detractors agree with the Dave Matthews comparison, but argue that the group is an even more watered-down version of the lite brew.

One thing's for sure: O.A.R.'s unlikely rise isn't over. It recently headlined Madison Square Garden for the first time, and the new album, Stories of a Stranger -- the group's second major-label release -- is inarguably its best, the stale sax solos replaced by solid songwriting and the band's previously overbearing production now tempered into pop precision. Some of those longtime fans are grumbling "sell-out," but since when has credibility been an issue in frat rock?

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