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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Stars

The North

Review by Larry Toering

Being new to Stars I find it hard to believe I haven't heard them before. This is a very interesting band. From what I hear they're consistently this good so I find them a must for further exploration. They're from Canada and politically expressive from the likes of The North, which is their sixth album. Everyone delivers a pretty much even contribution that can apparently be described as notable compared to prior releases, but I can say it is also a perfect introduction to this act. This masterstroke effort is packed with everything from orchestral pop to indie-inspired progressive rock. If you like that I'm sure after just one spin you'll be hooked and pumped for more, as it comes highly recommended.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
The Theory of Relativity
This is a big opener for me as their breath of  fresh air comes on strong with a powerful display of light and fluffy grooves. This is so well balanced that it instantly puts me on a path to explore their entire catalog. If this is any indication of what's to come, a great album surely lies ahead. Although it seems geared to dancing, the lyrics and arrangement are simply pop perfect in the songwriting department. But it's still progressive beyond that structure, so it works in so many ways.
Backlines
With big beats and more infectious melodies and a fantastic chorus, this goes up a few notches. With some heavy guitar work, these guys deliver a killer song.
The North
This is a completely mellow but fantastically groovy title track that hypnotizes the ears to a satisfying effect. The vocals are evenly shared on this one and it's a seamless effort as they intertwine perfectly. This contains everything from an 80s romantic feel to a modern day classic going for it, as I'm sure their point is made perfectly, as well.
Hold on when You Get Love and Let Go when You Give It
This is is quite a progressively more interesting approach with a clear message spelled out in the title. Once again, they go where most try but don't seem to accomplish. This really finds itself once again in the 80s but that is a great thing because they go there with zero difficulty, as if they can't fail whatsoever. You can dance to all of this music, but that is where their progressive inclinations dwell. How they blend an industrial feel with a beautifully romantic edge is something magical.
Through the Mines
Once again this is a mellow number but it does pick up in the middle. It goes into a lot of changes and dynamics that show off their talents. This is another interestingly progressive track which is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Do You Want To Die Together?

This opens with a slight blues vibe on the guitar and goes into cool vocal duet with a theatrical feel. This is amazing indeed, as they journey into a whole different style that totally surprises. They grab the listener by the throat and don't let go until the end. I would have to call this a definite highlight on the disc. The thing is, all they really do is apply this killer chorus over some abstract music and it just works so well that it's undeniable.

Lights Changing Colour
Just when things can't seem to get any better, another mellow number with a sublime outcome is delivered. What a simply cool track this is. Talk about hypnotic and beautiful all wrapped into one piece of  tasty ear candy.
Loose Ends Will Make Knots
This has more of a European vibe to it, with its darker feel and more electronic approach. Just like everything else on offer here, it has something going for it either way, as it helps tell the story they're clearly delivering.
A Song Is a Weapon
This is obviously one of the more important lyrical moments on the disc, with another well crafted song  about killing with just a song. This is certainly another interesting highlight for me that shows how great this band is.
Progress
More electronic factors fill the air on this tune as it makes “progress” throughout and defines its one word title very well. There are just too many prog elements here to miss, and this is one of the more blatant clues. I love how this builds as it goes for another great track.
The 400
This is quite a different thing and easily the mellowest song on offer, taking things into another territory altogether. I'd say they go a step beyond here, but I suspect it’s necessary in description, so it seems mandatory.
Walls
The closing track goes back to yet another interesting and abstract sort of number that gets the listener back on track just before the closing It serves to create a real need for continuous repeated visits. It’s an especially effective way to end a very fine recording by a band that appears to be in their element.

 

 
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