Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Staring Back-On

November 27, 2004

staringbackBand Name: Staring Back
Album Name: On
Best element: Infectious vocals and guitar riffs
Genre: Melodic punk
Website: http://www.staringback.com
Label name: Lobster Records (http://www.lobsterrecords.com)
Band e-mail: band@staringback.com

Staring Back’s sound conjures up memories of The Ataris back in the Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits era. This album is a departure from their first EP, The Mean Streets of Goleta in two ways. First and foremost, while The Mean Streets of Goleta was a superb and fun-to-listen-to EP, On has all of that while demonstrating both musical and lyrical maturity. Lyrically, they cover a wide range of deep subjects, ranging from not objectifying women (“You Say”), to leaving an unhealthy relationship (“Note to Self: Don’t Feel Dead” and “Seasick While Standing Still”), and of course the tried-and-true subject matter of broken hearts (“X-Out”).

Secondly, On is far more cohesive than Staring Back’s previous efforts. They’ve crafted a definitive sound for themselves, while avoiding repetition. Each song has its own unique sound and message, but as a whole, the songs combine to create a style of melodic punk that Staring Back can safely claim to be their own, a sound which is fraught with energy and sincerity all in one. The guitar riffs are infectious and catchy, and the vocals beg for the listener to sing along. For example, the break in “The Problem with Fire” where all instruments drop out and it’s just their lead singer, Matt, singing a few lines – you can’t help but join him.

Perhaps the two and a half year break between their first full length, Many Will Play and On, coupled with a few changes in their lineup, gave Staring Back time to really sit back and think about where they wanted to go as a band. If this is the case, the steps they made were definitely in the right direction. This is a CD which lacks a weak or throw-away song. On is a worthy listen for fans of The Ataris, Midtown, Dynamite Boy (also on Lobster Records), and MXPX.

(As a side note – try to catch these boys live as well – they put on one hell of an energetic live show.)

-Andrea Goodwin

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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