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the pathetic caverns - music by artist - Stare into the Sun

eclectic reviews and opinions

Stare into the Sun

Nocturnal

(self-released, 2004)

This was a mostly pleasant surprise, since the cover art and amateurish press sheet promised paint-by-numbers alternawhine. In fact, Stare into the Sun is an indie rock/punk outfit with substantial chops and range. I've heard plenty of Cramps-y surf riffs and a lot of Voivod-ish atonal metal crunch, but until "Without a Trace" I don't think I'd ever heard them in the same song. I'm sure I've never heard it work before. "Wake Me When It's Over" bounces between spare verses with something of the atmosphere and tension (not to mention busy bass parts) of New Model Army and a dense shout-along chorus like a demo from Strike Anywhere. The quiet segments of the title track and "Seeing Things" recall The Chameleons UK. Throughout the disc, songs take unexpected turns and go through stylistic shifts. The band's enthusiasm also goes a long way toward redeeming their derivative qualities. Tim Pak's mix is a little light on the drums for my taste, but more than serviceable.

Unfortunately, the vocals may be a sticking point for many listeners. Kevin Murphy is not only nasal and reedy, but he's also uninterested in correct or consistent pitch. He recalls (forcibly at times) other "unpleasant" singers like Jello Biafra, John Lydon, or David Thomas, but he doesn't have nearly their force of character. Several songs also overstay their welcome. The old-school Detroit "fuck you" anthem "We Were Here First" should've been one of the disc's strongest tracks, but the band should've picked between the martial marching drums/BÖC-style triple-guitar solo or the bass-drums-vocal breakdown/key change for the last chorus. The closing "What You Think" loses steam to extrachorusitis, which is particularly problematic when the chorus starts "How many times."

If you want to sample the band's wares, the only current option seems to be MySpace. I can't in good conscience recommend that anyone go there. It's not just its ownership by Fox's parent, News Corp.; the site won't show the music player in my browser at all anymore, apparently because my browser's set to reject the advertisers' tracking cookies. That should tell ya a little sumpin' 'bout the foks yer dealin' with.

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