Snappy, high-fidelity albums play just as important of a role in my ever-expanding music library as any intentionally lo-fi, bedroom-recorded material. Understanding the idea that there can be room for is both is difficult for some to grasp, including my stubborn self for quite some time. Overall though, nothing really compares to blasting a well-engineered masterpiece of production in the living room, on a solid set of bookshelf speakers; all-the-while enjoying a tall, velvety glass of malbec.
Not that I know much about individual music producers or the engineers working behind the scenes. I would think that this is the point of a sparkling, pristine production – convincing the listener that the sound is as true-to-life as it can get, without making your presence known. In the case of Stellar Young, the smooth combination of the band’s technical, catch-driven post-pop-punk (is that even a genre?) and the album’s slick production values make Everything At Once simply too hard to put down after just one sitting.
Match that with the fact that the band did it almost all by themselves, including raising funds through a successful Kickstarter campaign for a tour mini-bus, and you have one solid example of DIY determination at work. That’s not to say they didn’t have help from the outside, namely the production input and mixing prowess of Michael Birnbaum and Chris Bittner (Straylight Run, The Sleeping, Coheed and Cambria).
I’ll get this out of the way: Stellar Young reminds me of my pop-punk infested youth. At one point about a decade ago, it was all I listened to, all courtesy of the then-magnetic AbsolutePunk.net and EmotionalPunk.com. While the band surely evokes some of the emotions of obsessions-past, they undoubtedly offer up their own perspective on the genre, one that focuses less on superficial annoyance and much more on concrete substance. Yes, while Everything at Once contains some of the most hook-driven pieces I’ve heard in years, they’re well-conceived, well-performed and most importantly, not watered-down drivel accented by a nasally singer.
This album moves. It doesn’t bother remaining in the same place for too long, and for good reason. Vocals are far-reaching and multi-dimensional, guitars are quick and powerful, drums are thick and very expertly wailed-on. Compositions vary enough that you’re never left bored, wondering what you’ll have for dinner tonight. It’s as if there’s a master tempo knob getting turned back and forth throughout the 40-minute adventure, but the band always manages to remain relevant to the context of the album as a whole.
I won’t get into the details of each individual track (that’s what the Stand out tracks are for, crap-for-crap!), but will offer this: let the album settle in. I found on first listens that the singer can be a bit abrasive and remain in the same, relatively high register for extended periods of time. Don’t let me scare you into thinking this is a new and improved New Found Glory or anything… it’s just something to be aware of that will melt away over time. If it doesn’t, maybe you should just go to CVS for some whine medicine.
PS: I think this post could win the award for most-hyphenated-phrases-used-in-a-music-review. 20 by my count.
Sounds like: Fun, Paulson, The Novel Ideas
Stand out tracks:
Take a listen to my home-brewed instrumental/indietronic album
"The Past Is a Story We Tell Ourselves"
I'm told that it sounds like The Album Leaf, Balmorhea, and Emancipator.