Stars in Stereo hits the mark with new release Leave Your Mark
After having enjoyed the self-titled first release Stars in Stereo, I have looked forward to the upcoming release of Leave Your Mark since they played a few tracks off the album in San Diego a few months back. It has been with mixed feelings however, since I was worried that the band could not live up to the incredibly high standard that they set with their first album. As I sit and listen to each of the songs again and again, I can attest to the fact that they have at least matched the quality of their first album. Leave Your Marks will become a family favourite, even if it is not quite as family friendly.
What I loved so much about the first CD was the band’s ability to play serious metal as well as ballads and songs even pop music fans could enjoy. Stars in Stereo has been a staple for car rides in our family, and even more so when we have other people with us with different musical tastes. It has been the perfect album to influence people away from the bland, meaninglessness of pop music. I sort of saw Stars in Stereo as the “gateway drug” I could use to bring people over to real, live, exciting music.
With the new CD, Stars in Stereo has made a giant step away from the pop sounds of the band’s first release and has made a leap into harder hitting rock music; they have been incredibly successful at this transformation, bringing in harder chords and angrier sounds without giving up any of the beauty that characterized their first CD, Stars In Stereo.
The first three songs on the album are probably the best, “Not a Shot”, “Echo” and especially, “Leave Your Mark," which is a microcosm of the entire album, showing off everything this band is so great at. Starting out as a ballad it turns into a super catchy metal song, and finally introduces some of the less than family friendly lyrics and concepts that characterize the newer SinS. They really show their harder side with “Vacancy,” which has a hard, driving beat with outstanding guitar work almost reminiscent of southern metal, a great twist to the sound of the rest of the album. “Wasted (Until I'm Gone)” is another amazing song, which showcases Bec Hollcraft’s ability to flirt with the more gothic sound of metal.
The part that I wondered most was how they could follow up on the beautiful ballads from their first CD, highlighted by the incredible “Queen of Catastrophe.” Bec and her group succeeded in pulling that off with “I Can’t” and “Fall Forward” on Leave Your Mark. Both are awesome songs that are made so much more enjoyable by Hollcraft's amazing range. There is an addictive acoustic version of “I Can’t” on their YouTube channel, which you should not miss.
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The biggest challenge I felt Stars in Stereo faced was the “not a bad song on the album” curse. Their first release had 10 outstanding songs, and no one in the family ever asked, “can we skip this song…it sucks!” Well, we certainly won’t hear that this time either, except now mom and dad may say, “can we skip this song? We really don’t want to explain those lyrics to your friends (‘s parents)!”. There is not a single song on the new CD that is not catchy, enjoyable, and fun.
Of course, a new CD means . . . Upcoming Live Shows! I have seen Stars in Stereo several times in the past couple of years, and I have enjoyed everything about their shows…except that they have been opening for others and have not had long enough sets. I am always wishing they had more time to show off the diversity and range of the band’s abilities, but in less than 30 minutes I have always been wanting more, hoping they come back as a headliner sometime. "Sometime" is getting closer.
Stars in Stereo released each song on the album with a virtual concert, releasing one song each day in video format, and they are all up on their site. For fans of Stars and Stereo you can see the evolution of this band as it moves towards heavier and harder rock and roll. Bec’s performances, both live and on video have become more provocative, which as a middle aged man raising two daughters is my only complaint about the new sound and image. Of course in a perfect world, female singers would be judged by the quality and range of their voices and their skills at songwriting and not by the other, less meaningful scale used today. In this perfect world, this band, this album, and this singer would be one hell of a hot commodity. Hollcraft has such amazing talent, bringing together the haunting sounds of Amy Lee (Evanescence), the range of Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), and the heavy metal attitude of Lzzy Hale. Combine that with the talent of the other musicians and the quality of the new release and the future looks bright for Stars in Stereo.
Zoe Adler is a music journalist from Long Beach, California. Besides her website, which is her pride and joy, she works with the GRAMMY Foundation and the Long Beach Independent. Additionally, Ms. Adler is a musician, spending half of her time playing the flute, piccolo, trombone, and marching baritone. She has been with TeenView Music since the very start and hopes to make something of it in the future.