No, it's not Weezer; it's Ozma that will play at the Pub

    It is said that imitation is the best form of flattery, but sometimes this works both ways when an up-and-coming band earns comparison to well-established artists. At times, over-comparison can kill the musical offspring, but while the members of pop/rock band Ozma may be sick and tired of hearing themselves be compared to Weezer, the parallels drawn are warranted, and in this case, those credentials are a good thing.

    Courtesy of http://ww.ozmaonline.com

    The Pasadena, Calif., band that has learned from the greats — unsurprisingly having toured with the likes of Weezer and Nada Surf (of which they sound like the perfect genetic crossing) — will be playing at the Stage on Jan. 31 as part of the A.S.-sponsored Buzz series.

    “”They’re just a perfect college band,”” said Assistant Programmer Sean Mandel-Toren, explaining that he booked Ozma after the band’s name was repeatedly suggested by UCSD students as a potential Buzz invitee, following in the footsteps of bands Sugarcult and Eek-A-Mouse during fall quarter.

    Ozma, several of whose members attend UCLA, epitomizes everything that a college band should be: sentimental yet catchy, pop yet rock, earnest yet not overly serious. Ozma seduces listeners with their foolproof formula for emotional, hook-filled anthems.

    Members of the band came together in a manner befitting their generation and credo, searching AOL member profiles as teenagers looking for others that shared their musical interests. Soon enough, Ozma had formed, and after a few early shows playing dozens of Weezer covers (surprise), the band released its own concoctions on demo CDs, and through the Internet in early 2000. After that, the pace picked up to full throttle for Ozma when Weezer listened to one of their demos and whisked the unsigned band along as openers for their arena-packed Yahoo! nationwide tour. Release of Ozma’s debut, “”Rock and Roll Part Three,”” soon came on the heels of this success, most recently followed with 2001’s double-EP release, titled “”Doubble Donkey Disc,”” half of which is composed solely of Russian-inspired songs.

    What sets Ozma somewhat apart from Weezer and cohorts are the band’s dynamics and the lyrical content of the songs.

    Ozma uses three vocalists (Daniel Brummel, Jose Galvez and Ryen Slegr), and one very talented keyboardist (Star Wick), who adds nicely to the layered sound walls of the guitarists, all combining together to weave in and out of soft melodies to hard-hitting hooks and back again. The lyrics, with forced rhymes touchingly adding to the band’s sense of earnestness, explore recurrent themes of lost first loves and wonderments of their past youth (and since this is a college-aged bunch, we’re talking from high school back down all the way to elementary school here). These themes are not earth-shattering in their originality, perhaps, but with such idealistic and passionately sung lines as, “”Every night I see a shooting star/I’m wondering if it’s landing where you are/if you can see then you can’t be far,”” or, “”an apple tree/a family tree/Will plant us together/and the roots will hold forever and forever,”” listeners are left feeling convinced that a little emotion can indeed go a long way. After all, this is a band who devoted an entire song to actress Natalie Portman, daydreaming about whether or not she feels lonely and speculating, “”If I’m a proper Jewish boy, will her family love me?””

    Other song themes range from recollections of moving the Ouija board pointer in the ninth grade to thinking about the distance between loved ones while sitting through an airplane flight. While all the songs are introspective and emotionally bare, the musical pace fluctuates wildly. One moment soft, the other pounding down with electric guitars, Ozma’s soundscapes manage to blend the incredible catchiness of pop-powered garage band approaches to the emotional drawn-out epic style in the grand tradition of Weezer’s “”Only In Dreams,”” off of their self-titled debut album. Songs of this length are incredibly risky for a pop-driven band, yet Ozma pulls it off in style thanks to a balance between engaging lyrics and well-crafted, layered harmonies.

    Since Ozma managed to land a spot opening for Weezer based solely on the quality of their live sets, it should be safe to listen to Ozma’s fans who say that the band turns out a great show. The show is 18 and over, and doors open at 7 p.m. on Jan. 31 at the Stage. Tickets are $5 for students and $7 for general admission.

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