Ava, Wait | Lost Vegas (s/r)

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Most of the songs here would fit well on alternative rock radio alongside anything the major labels have to offer.

From St. Louis to Springfield, Mo. to Los Vegas, Ava, Wait is a band on a mission. Following a farewell show in 2009, the guys regrouped and has now released Lost Vegas. Before you write the band off as just another alt-rock band, take a listen to this disc; there is plenty to like here.
Lead-off track “Cheaters Never Prosper (Betting Man)” is full of anthemic choruses and melodic instrumental interludes. Up next, “All Bets Are Off” (are you starting to grasp the theme here?) is rougher, more pointedly in-your-face. Singer Gareth Nelson has a strong and versatile voice, equal parts commanding and soothing. Group vocals up only serve to up the energy.
The lengthily monikered “All You’ve Ever Wanted for Me Has Come True (Kick the Chair)” is a signature Ava, Wait tune, one which comes fully to life when performed live. This song takes no prisoners; slip on the headphones and hang on. With a wink toward their former place of residence, the guys give us “The In Between (Missouri Loves Company),” which features some really nice falsetto work by Nelson. The pointed guitar lines of “In the City” will get stuck in your head for days; up next is “Papillon,” melodic and mellow, the perfect intermission.
The rock is back with “Buried in a Burrough”; though Nelson tries to fit too many syllables into one line (a transgression he also made on an earlier track), the song is hardly the worse for wear. Things start to lag a bit in the early part of the album’s second half, as neither “Please Don’t Go (Armistice)” or “Suspect” prove especially memorable. With its machine-gun-fire drumbeats, “Routines” is a step in the right direction. With “Halo Bar”—titled, one would assume, after the Delmar Loop venue of the same name—Nelson tries to recapture the intensity of a back-of-the-room conversation; group vocals add to the appeal of this song.
The album’s final two tracks, “When the Ghosts Disappear” and “No Way New (Feet Don’t Fail Me Now)” are what has by now become “classic” Ava, Wait: searing guitar lines, soaring vocals and melodic instrumentation—strong songs with which to end, indeed.
With Lost Vegas, Ava, Wait manages to blend a handful of rock styles—alternative, pop-punk and prog—into a collection of tracks that stand out from their peers. Most of the songs here would fit well on alternative rock radio alongside anything the major labels have to offer. B+ | Laura Hamlett
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