The Star Tracks compilation
CD marks a huge step for local music. Conceived by Indianapolis Star columnist
David Lindquist, this CD is a collection of central Indiana's 'best recordings'
put together and distributed by Indianapolis' premier newspaper. Star Tracks is
particularly relevant because it stands to help break a largely unknown local
music scene to the city and state's general populous, and also shows that mainstream
media is beginning to catch onto some of the great music being made around our
Upon my first listen
of the CD, I found myself a little disappointed with the CD's content. It
seemed like a few local acts that should have had a place on the disc were left
out, and some of the tracks on the CD were somewhat sub par. I think these shortcomings
can be attributed to the fact that this CD isn't aimed at the local rock hipsters,
but the much more diverse readership of the Indianapolis Star, as well as the
idea that the CD is billed as 'central Indiana's best recordings'. The latter
raises the very important fact that the fast majority of local artists, great
and not so great, don't have a professionally passable recording. I hope productions
such as this will serve as a reality check and encourage artists to actually spend
some time and money on the material they release.
Star Tracks starts off with
'Mix Tape' by Johnny Socko,
one of the states longest running acts. I'm a fan of Socko's earlier work,
but I've yet to hear any of their newer offerings including the recently released
self titled disc from which 'Mix Tape' appears. To put it bluntly, I thought this
track was one big cheese ball. I'm not sure what exactly has happened to the band
since they were writing brilliant comedic pieces like 'Bitch Stole My Hat' and
'If I Didn't Have a Goiter', but 'Mix Tape' just wasn't doing it for me. The song
is more power ballad with rapped bridges than the ska flavored rock of the band's
past. The recording was definitely pro and sounded nice, albeit a little boring,
which was only furthered by the songs repetitive nature. I don't think there is
any doubt Johnny Socko deserves a place on this disc, but I sure hope they have
some better songs in their bag of tricks.
Socko Performing at the "Star Tracks" Release Show
'Bullseye', Star Tracks'
offering from Brit Pop kingpins Pop
Lolita is one of my two favorites on the CD. This song sounds great and leaves
me wondering where it was recorded. Hands down the best recording of a British
sounding band I've heard from this state. Giving me some major Swervedriver vibes,
this song flies by, and before I knew it I was hitting the back button on my stereo
to listen to it again.
Indianapolis' favorite gravel
voiced songsmith, Otis
Gibbs can be found on track 3 with 'Bernadine', one of his many songs about
women whose names end in 'ine'. Otis' songs are simple and elegant at the same
time, and this one is no different. 'Bernadine' is the story of longingly
watching a past love from a distance. The song has great character lent by Otis'
distinctive voice and smooth guitar work. The recording sounded nice, but the
vocals may be a little 'up front' for anyone listening at a significant volume.
Otis Gibbs Band performing at the 'Star Tracks' release show.
I'm perplexed by 'Centralia',
the track by Early
Day Miners. It is exceedingly slow and minimalist.. So much so that I would
be inclined to doubt this style is representative of the rest of their music.
The tune has a backbeat, but played only by the snare drum, with the remains of
the aural landscape filled with lush guitars and hushed vocals.
Track 5, 'I Heard an Owl',
an acoustic piece with hints of country, folk, and a bit of gospel, by Carrie
Newcomer is a good follow up for the Early Day Miners song. Carrie is another
great Indiana artist with a long running career. This is a great sounding
song with strong vocals and some tasty 'fiddle' licks.
Fuglee's definitely bring the rock to this CD. Their contribution,
'Last Time' is upbeat with a sing along chorus. It's a great song and a good recording.
I just can't shake the fact that the verse riff sounds a lot like 'Ballroom Blitz'.
The Fuglee's must be Sweet fans.
Fuglees (pic by Moxy)
Eeqwa is an act that I had
not heard of before receiving this CD. 'Jack' is a xylophone laced song with
breathe-y layered female vocals and vibrato guitar. From the first chorus
the song has great momentum while maintaining a mellow vibe that makes me think
Eeqwa would be an excellent opening act for a band like The Pieces.
Another of my favorites,
'Train Lights' by Citizens
Band found a place on the Star Tracks album. Whether you call this style
of music country-fried rock, y'alternative or roots rock, the fact of the
matter is that Citizens Band is the best of the genre here in Indiana. You know
you like the twang.
I have to admit, I really
don't know what to think of the 2 minute, 49 second 'They Don't Like Me in This
Town' by John Wilkes Booze. Their self professed 'Hoosier R&B' to me sounds
like The Dead Milkmen meets The Greenhornes with a bunch of weird saxophone
noises flying around. I just don't understand the relevance of this track other
than the fact that it was recorded by Paul Mahern.
takes things back down a notch with their track 'This Time'. The song has a
brooding, hand percussion based rhythm, soulful female vocals, and some slick
guitar work. It's a little boring for me, the typical rock n roll reviewer,
but it does sound good.
(pic by Kristen Leep)
I'm torn on this CD.
It's a brilliant idea, but a disc with this track listing is just going to
sit on my shelf. None the less, I suggest that everyone go out and buy a copy.
Proceeds from the CD's sales go to the "Season For Sharing" charity,
and I'm sure a lot of these will need to be sold to ensure that the star will
do one next year. I don't think this is an album that most people will have in
their CD player for a long period of time, but I don't think that's the point.
It's a great way to turn people on to new music, and genre's they might not have
otherwise heard. If nothing else. Grab the CD, check it out, and pass it along
to other members of your family. It's all about spreading the word.
The compilation, a fund-raiser
for The Indianapolis Star charity "Season for Sharing," is on sale at
the Indianapolis Star's public service counter, 307 N. Pennsylvania St.,
and Luna Music, 1521 W. 86th St. and 433 Massachusetts Ave.
All money donated to
"Season for Sharing" goes directly to local agencies that assist the
hungry, homeless, elderly and children.
Star Tracks Show Review
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