Reviews:: Low Stars

Remember our scathing review of the whole America fiasco? Probably not, but long story short, I’m against any act that does things strictly to gain fans. Joining forces with country stars with big bankrolls (Caught you looking with the eephus, didn’t I Rick Rubin?), trying to latch onto a young hip demographic… not my cup of tea, no matter how good the result.

Then you look at this “throw back super group” called Low Stars. In a complete 180, I actually think they are consciously trying to do the most uncool things to detract any hype and let their music speak for itself. I mean, here you have four accomplished singers who decided to try to channel the vibe of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. If these guys weren’t well known singers, no matter what the results, you’d laugh at the notion. Since you recognize the names, you don’t dismiss it, but you quickly register doubt and suspect the project will be a debacle. Deciding to release the record only at Starbuck’s? Strike two if you are trying to gain some fans – just look at what this guy thinks about Starbuck's and their associated selling a lifestyle mantra (note - I don't think I care enough about where you get your coffee or your music to argue the point, but lots of people do).

The band – made up of Jeff Russo from Tonic, Jude (hey, one of his jams was used on Lost), Chris Seefried from Joe 90 and Dave Gibbs from the Gigolo Aunts – probably could have gone a lot of routes with the release, none of which would have raised as many eyebrows as the path they chose. To be honest, that really makes me interested in what they have to say.

Hoping to take a step back form the studio, and use just their voices and a front porch mentality, the concept itself pushes the Low Stars to the edge of dismissal with every single note, but they thing is, they actually pull it off. Four harmonizing vocals, trapped in the 70s, with an overwhelming sound of familiarity - its comfort music, which is not something easy to create.

“What, have I heard this before? No, wait, yes, nope.. wait.. Have I? Is Mexico a James Taylor song?”

Songs like Calling All Friends trigger a nostalgic journey. Maybe people think this might be a guilty pleasure, but I disagree. These are the exact type of songs I want to hear when I’m driving across the province looking at the breath taking Rocky Mountains in the rear-view mirror.

These are the types of songs I’d expect my friends to play sitting around a campfire, except instead of bad solos and ill-timed harmonies, you are given a well produced combination of sugary/rootsy guitars, simple drums and perfect harmonies. They add some layers and textures – like the latin horns on Mexico - but the jam session outro to Tracks in the Rain, double solo scatting section on Tracks in the Rain, and the double tracked guitars of Why Not Your Baby really sum up this record. You actually feel that this record was made for the fun of writing songs like this again. It’s for the love of the music.

When I listen to this record, I picture these guys sitting down and one of them starting to play. After seeing the chord patterns, slowly the other three guys jump in and start tossing in harmonies on the chorus or some oohs and aahs.

Sure I’m not into every song, but how many records do I really listen to start to finish, listening intently. In an age of music where people are so concerned with how their music is perceived, and listeners are so concerned with who else likes it, it’s refreshing to see a band decide to write music for themselves, regardless of what the listeners or the critics think.

MP3:: Tracks in the Rain

@ 10:12 PM, Anonymous kicked the following game:

hi- i read your review and couldnt agree more.
have you heard the track "justified" on itunes featuring chris seefried on lead vocal? its like johnny cash meets paul simon. Melodic with beautiful instumentals and hymn-like at the same time.Familiar yet completely original. I would not be surprised if a year from now the lowstars are on the cover of rolling stone mag.and winning 5 grammys.This is timeless music in a time where there is no new music thats listenable.what a treat.Im ready for a roadtrip.


@ 4:38 PM, Ashley kicked the following game:

i heard this band on myspace and really liked it. i went to starbucks yesterday and didn't see it. does anyone know when it comes out? thanks.


@ 6:07 PM, Anonymous kicked the following game:

the cd actually came out today at starbucks. i picked one up earlier and i can't put it down. takes me back. LOVE IT!


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