Five Times August

Brighter Side [Adrenaline]

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Five Times August is not a band. It’s one dude named Brad Skistimas. Aside from being a talented guitarist, singer, and songwriter, Mr. Skistimas also seems pretty adept at sticking it to the Man with his D.I.Y. mindset. He has spurned every advance from major labels to go it alone, placing his catchy, acoustic-driven pop tunes on all kinds of TV shows while touring his brains out. Although he enlisted studio players to flesh out the arrangements on Brighter Side, at the core of the 12 tunes is his intricate, rhythmic flat-top work, making it easy for him to get his songs across in a solo setting, which is how he performs live. The first single, “The Good Life,” features a bouncy cross-picked progression that should appeal to the Dave Matthews/Jason Mraz crowd. Other cool acoustic moments include the lilting, capoed lines that open “Surface” and the resonant arpeggios of “Sunrise.” This is smart pop-rock with cool guitar, but FTA might be every bit as important as a business model as a one-man band.
—Matt Blackett