Stellardaze comes out of the gate walking a relaxed line of soft rock and Long Beach vibes reminiscent of some loosely assembled reggae revival. The opener might give off a false impression, however, because their album Paintress is rather linear. Each song is unique and almost indiscernibly so, when thinking conceptually. It’s like they’re still in the process of shaping a consistent narrative of sound so why not try out a few things and see what bites? Nothing wrong with that, I’m all for constructive exploration. And with that said, these guys boast some eclectic taste and skills to boot.
For example, I expected a Sublime laden effort up until the second track nipped that in the bud quickly. You can’t help but appreciate Stellardaze’s ability to craft the laid back slick of “Eulerian Circles” and then turn around like it never happened. Some might find this too much like musical ADD, but I’m seeing things a little differently.
Paintress didn’t exactly blow me away, but the material is unmistakably original, a trait best exemplified on their finale “Mold” a sonic journey capping at just over ten minutes. There’s a hidden track waiting in the wings, but it’s no filler and that can be said for every cut on this record. The ideas have their own agendas and showcases new sides to the band’s musicianship.
The standout is “Mold” without question. Yes, it takes its time with development, but every minute is spent with care and attention. That sax is sexy and emotional, bringing with it a Pink Floyd atmosphere thick with haze and yet very defined. The drums leave their soft beginnings for a tasteful intensity on the hi-hat and then it’s off to the races with a dancing ride cymbal atop a malt shop beat.
The sax lifts beautiful triad runs into the mix while the vocals sit understated in a muffled setting akin to being underwater. Around five minutes, the song leans briefly on a romp-y lick of stabbing sax and R&B groove. I have to say, it sounded like a little Marvin Gaye. Are you impressed yet?
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