If you were watching MTV (and specifically, Laguna Beach: The Real OC), you heard of the band Open Air Stereo. I was doing neither of those things, so when I first heard the track “On These Crowded Streets”, it was coming practically out of nowhere.
The fledgling band at the time found a solid amount of buzz and fame thanks to their appearances on the show, showing off a musical style that combined numerous areas of the alt rock spectrum. The group self-released their debut EP, before signing to Epic records and releasing two more albums that took them in a more pop rock/pop-punk direction. Sadly, the band had line-up changes and later disbanded. Drummer Nick Gross went off to a number of other projects, and is currently the founder of girlfriends and Big Noise Music Group, while Chase Johnson formed the band Half the Animal.
While the group’s 2013 album is available on Spotify, nothing on it is as captivating as the early single “On These Crowded Streets”.There’s an eerie quality to the open guitar line of the song, when combined with the tribal drum rhythm, it sounded like nothing on the radio back in 2005 when it came out. “On these crowded streets, no one’s down, we’re just around” is sung with a sinewy, disaffected cadence by frontman Chase Johnson. The song even dives into political territory (“There’s a war in the Middle East, and no one seems to care. Lately it’s been too much to bear”).
An original sound, lyrics with depth, and a hook that seeps its way into your consciousness strongly enough that it’s stayed in mine the last seventeen years. Since the track is nearly impossible to stream anywhere (it’s not even on Youtube!), I’ve included it below for your listening pleasure, so this gem is not forever lost.