Collective Soul, "Collective Soul"
For a band that had its commercial heyday in the mid-'90s, Collective Soul has maintained a steady touring schedule and respectable sales, despite label and personnel changes. On its eighth studio album (and first Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records release), "Collective Soul," the act seems rejuvenated-the set is a mostly uptempo album brimming with guitar hooks. The opening track, "Welcome All Again," has a techno/industrial flair that makes it ripe for licensing; "Dig" is a shout-along arena-rocker; and "Understanding" alternates between a midtempo and harmony-rich surf punk. Then the album turns decidedly poppy, with the first single, "Staring Down," making catchy use of bass and bongo. Meanwhile, "Lighten Up" and "Love" are tinged with new wave. "Collective Soul" closes with "Hymn for My Father," a full-bodied ballad with singer/ guitarist Ed Roland on solo piano that's an abrupt but heartfelt ending to an otherwise jubilant effort. --Evie Nagy