These days, listening to music (much less writing about it) often feels a bit like cramming for a midterm. Is this new artist just spewing shitty noise? Or is it a conscious effort to subvert the conventions of a moribund genre? Does Artist X see himself as a bluegrass Sonic Youth or Husker Du by way of Gillian Welch? THESE THINGS MATTER (apparently)! And with new artists popping every day from all over the world and every corner of the blogosphere and neo subgenres emerging and dying off faster than you can say “chillwave,” just becoming relatively conversant in the “new” can be an exhausting affair. Now this process can certainly be rewarding (and its not like anyone is forcing me to listen or study), revealing new musicians and styles, but separating the proverbial wheat from the chaff is no easy task….and sometimes you just need a break. And, for me, that’s where O.A.R. fits in.