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Stars Of Track And Field Should Be Tested For Steroids

Thursday, August 17, 2006

2006_04_arts_sotf1.jpgStars of Track and Field

“Hey man, did you hear about that new band?”

“Which?”

“Stars . . . something . . .”

“Oh I love Stars.”

“No no, wait . . . Stars of Track and Field, I think.”

“Umm, yeah, I think I heard of them.” (Lying)

“They’re gonna explode! I mean, they are gonna be huge. Listening to them, I feel like it’s the first sunny day after my last exam in freshman year.”

“Oooohhh!”

“They’re gonna explode! Really. Be ready for it.”

If you haven’t already had this conversation, know that you will.

The Portland, Oregon based band, having hit underground success with their debut EP, You Came Here for Sunset Last Year, are out of the gates and setting the pace with their new project and first full-length album, Centuries Before Love and War, due out in spring next year. Through the secrets of this new-fangled technological Internet phenomenon, I managed to get an advanced copy, although, given the fact that STF promise an EP in the fall, Centuries Before Love and War might be quite different when it comes out. Regardless, the album is well deserved of the praise it will get.

Without a bassist, STF is a cybernetic construct of digital, analog and biological components orchestrated by guitarist/vocalist Jason Bell, vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Kevin Calaba and drummer/programmer Dan Orvik. The theme of the band, for me anyway, seems to be ‘Back to the Future.’ Old influences like The Beatles and Built to Spill are set to a modern day indie-tempo. Listening to Centuries Before Love and War with my eyes closed, I move through the last decade-and-a-half of emo and indie with syncopated vocals reminiscent of Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity and early Pinback to The Notwist and Aphex Twin. Mashed together, STF manage to put together an album that is endearing and distant, lyrically sensitive to modern travesties and yet removed from time.

“We called the CD Centuries Before Love and War due to the fact that all the lyrical content was dealing with maligned memory and love loss. And obviously, with the war going on now, it’s pretty hard not to have that affect your writing,” says Bell. “The difficult part is presenting your politics with insight and thoughtfulness, while avoiding trite rhetoric.”

There is an immediate sense of the now with this new album. Lyrically, I found the songs to be quite strong. While I sometimes wished the vocals had more meat to go with the potatoes, the overall effect is a coming together of blips, bangs, twangs and tremelo that had me time traveling. No Flux Capacitor needed. Centuries Before Love and War invokes a rush of memories like the sudden scent of an old girlfriend’s perfume.

And now I have returned to the present to pass along the knowledge of the future. They’re gonna explode!

The rumours will be true. daereimajmai

Listen to Real Time, Centuries, Movies of Antarctica and With You at MySpace.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Matthew permalink
    Thursday, August 17, 2006 2:01 pm

    I haven’t actually read the article yet, given the little free time that my high-profile executive position allows me, but all I know is that both Built to Spill and Aphex Twin appear as references, and I hope to sweet god that the music backs up these glorious references, cause I swear by my children’s eyes that if either AT and BtS are sullied by virtue of shitty association, I’ll have your head.

    And – Built to Spill, old? As old as the Beatles? They just released an album last year, and are contemporaries of JEW (uh, Jimmy Eat World).

  2. Matthew permalink
    Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:24 pm

    Hmm, know what? These guys are pretty good – the Built to Spill comparison is pretty apt, in terms of sweet instrumental harmonies. “With You” is for sure the best track on their MySpace, good canon at the end of the song (reminds me of the Chemical Brother’s “Close Your Eyes”) – I likey. But, they do need a few more balls – like, in their current state, I think they’d lose in a fist-fight against the Postal Service, and that should happen to no self-respecting group of men.

    Damn fine find, my good man.

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