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GARE (Buy CDs by this artist)
Common Ground (Sp. Bip Bip) 2005

Combining Latin rhythms, rock, folk and a bit of jazz, Common Ground is best taken in small doses to avoid the sense of sameness. The Spanish group boasts first-rate musicianship in Ismael Inarejos (vocals/guitar), Mercè Pastor (harmony vocals), David Lozano (guitar), Rodri Pizarro (drums) and Agustû Calomarde (bass), but the title is all too literal: there's precious little uncommon ground here. Even the sitar intro to "Scarecrow" is a red herring that leads back to the same mid-tempo pop-rock. "English Rain" is the closest Gare gets to straight-out rock and roll, but that's only on the chorus and the instrumental section; the rest of the song falls in line with its surroundings. The slower "Easy Soothing Lies" stands out, but its distorted-guitar chorus and instrumental conclusion offer no surprises. The tracks on Common Ground unite into a complimentary whole, but that's little more than beautifully rendered background music for a social gathering that doesn't want to be interrupted.

[Martin Sharp]