Album Reviews: OK to Go by Virginia CoalitionThis Virginia-based quartet has steadily increased its local following over the course of a five-year career, during which time the band has released three previous records. A rock band with a refreshingly pop sensibility (R.E.M. comes immediately to mind, particularly on the opening track “Pick Your Poison”), Virginia Coalition serve up mature, mid-tempo tunes with sophisticated nods to both hard rock and country. Songs veer significantly from the band's central focus at times, to the point where the rockers doing “Pick Your Poison” sound like a completely different group than the one behind the rolling “Mason Dixon.” Virginia Coalition also regularly venture too close to territory mined by Counting Crows, relieving themselves of some of their bite in favor of a pat, adult-contemporary sound. But for the most part, VACO (as their fans call them) make smart use of their dual leanings toward country rock and hard rock.
The second half of OK to Go, particularly the standout “Meteor,” really showcases the band’s penchant for giving mellow country a hard-rock kick. There's also greater use of piano - largely lost in the guitar hooks of side one - which helps give the band a fuller sound. Given a little restraint and a more clearly defined vision of what kind of music this band wants to create, there’s no reason Virginia Coalition can’t make a great album. - Cory O'Malley
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