In this day and age when music
shelves are stacked full of rap and R&B albums it is always nice to
run across a great pop disc. However, you do have to dig a little
deeper. In this instance we turn to the World Wide Web. I found a slew
of amazing rock/pop bands that have never graced the American air
waves, decidedly one of the hardest markets out there to please. The
top two that caught my eye were Darren Hayes' "The Tension and The
Spark" and Ocianic's "U". Both albums ironically are by talented
musicians that herald from Australia but are USA residents now.

The Tension and The Spark is
Hayes' second solo album after the breakup of his first,
internationally famous, band Savage Garden. Upon doing a little
research, I discovered that this album was different from his usual
style, but in a good way! The pop-esque sound had faded and was
replaced with a more jaded raw edge. He teamed up with Robert Conley
from Specificus (an underground band) and it was truly, in my opinion,
a blessed union. I loved the sounds and the lyrics had that eloquent
way of the few that really speak to you. Some of the songs broke away
with racy concepts and one in particular; "Unlovable" is a slap in the
face. It'll really catch your attention with tragic lyrics such as "Am
I unlovable? Am I unlookable?"… All in all from track 1 to track 13
this album draws you in, takes you on a journey, and pushes you out the
other side to reevaluate the way you live your life, the way you relate
to others. It is extremely worth it to go to and check out this magnificent work of underrated musical art!

The other disc I ran across
while prowling the net was an album simply titled "U". The band,
Ocianic, is LA based and has what I'll call a soft rock sound. The band
is comprised of Aaron Hendra, Ben Carey, and Russ Hendra. All
Australian born and bred, but they've graced our shores while writing
this album. With heartfelt lyrics of love and angst this is duality at
its best. My now favourite track "Fire" is a gritty number about the
reality of fame (at least as my interpretation sees it) but they still
have their softer side. Songs like "Always Amazing" & "The Feeling"
make you wish your older brother's were Aaron & Ben! They have won
me over as a fan. They certainly know how to write a breathtaking
album! They're independently released and according to their website,
this is their life long dream come to fruition. Aaron, lead singer, I
learned is planning a solo project that, after giving a listen to the
first round of songs he's written, will surely be a stunner. I'm all
excited. Thank God for the Google feature! Ben Carey, lead guitar, is
currently touring with the band Lifehouse. I can't wait to see if he
does something solo as well. Check out their first album at!

For now they remain in my
bookmarks, new music added to my library, and I'm offering them as
suggestions to add to yours. Till next time, I'll be keeping my spot
light on the underground. Let's see who gets discovered!