Review: So Long, Stargazer’s ‘Look Up’

Columbus, Ohio’s So Long, Stargazer (@solongstargazer) is a young, energetic quartet consisting of Chase McCants (vocals, synthesizers), Kristin Green (vocals, keyboards), Nick Wray (drums), and Tommy Davis (guitars).  Founded two years back, the group played live to get the word out, which served as anticipation for 2016 debut LP titled Look Up. The album is unlike anything that has dropped in recent memory, making it one of the standouts on the indie music radar.

The record is the epitome of variety, featuring both McCants and Green sharing lead vocals on some tunes and then one or the other handling lead on others. Look Up comes with a late 1990/early 2000s sound to it, when radio was more diverse and bands could chart across multiple genres. The band deserves a great deal of success now, but had they released this album about 20 years ago SLS would be in the same conversation with Blessid Union of Souls, Sarah McLachlan, Keane, Anna Nalick, among others. That is great musical company to be in and they would have skyrocketed up the charts along with said acts.

For instance, the second track “Rewind” could do well on today’s Hot AC chart. The way all individual parts just melt together makes for a tasty musical grilled cheese sandwich. McCants’ canary-like vocals are on display here and blend in with Green’s keyboard work, Wray’s on-point drumming, and solid guitar play from Davis. On the other hand, carried by its vocals “Wreckage” is a spot-on tune that would fit at R&B stations. If only two minutes longer, “Drink the Sin” would slay on Hot AC or CHR Pop stations, giving SLS one of its more crossover tunes in today’s times.

Two decades ago, there was more diversity on the airwaves and that is where the bulk of Look Up would have fit like a glove. McCants, Green, Wray, and Davis should be commended for making the music they feel like making despite what industry big wigs choose to currently peddle. Here is hoping they can breakthrough and attract the attention they deserve. Even though the album is rock solid, their live events are a sight to behold and in this era of hip-hop, electronica, pop, and folk rock will be what carries them forward.

Further diversifying the album, Green gets to show off her singing chops on tracks such as “From Detroit to Toledo”, “To the Hour”, and “Weightless”. These tracks could do damage on AC and Hot AC stations with the right record company behind them. If/when either vocalist is ready to fly solo, those records are going to be in high demand on the scene.

Listeners should not let the LP being 14 tracks deter them as the different song lengths on Look Up balance out the album rather nicely. So Long, Stargazer’s musicianship is undisputed, however, due to the album’s hodgepodge and the current radio state a record company will have to work hard in marketing it. Outside of staunch metalheads, the record has just about something for everyone, which makes it appealing to fans who like multiple genres. The downside is by being so difficult to pin down to one radio format, major labels may not be up for the challenge. That would be a shame as the record is superb musically top to finish, but business is about calculated risks so it would be great for a label to step up and give these hard-working lads a chance. As far as the record goes, the listening public ought to follow suit.

 

Photo courtesy of the band’s website

R&B Singer-Songwriter On The Rise And Breaking Hometown Stereotypes

Seattle native Tess Henley (@TessHenley) is a force to be reckoned with as a soulful artist with a pop side. This is fascinating as the Seattle area is best known as the hotbed for artists such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden. It is refreshing to have an artist who has the ability to move the meter and break stereotypes. This is evident in her video “Who Are You”, which has Top 40 hit all over it. She has been part of shows that were headlined by R&B superstars Jill Scott and Anthony Hamilton. Alicia Keys, Fiona Apple, and Vanessa Carlton better look over their shoulders. There’s another piano player on the scene and she plays for keeps.

Henley, no relation to Eagles member Don (as far as we know), is ready to blow up and should be confident heading into this new year. Three years ago was a big period in her career, as she won the 2011 Independent Music Award for Best R&B Song (“Boy In The Window”) and the soultracks.com International Songwriting Competition. This demonstrates Henley’s ability to perform and pen tracks. There are complaints from the general public about one-dimensional musical acts. Henley is a breath of fresh air, clearly capable of being able to write her own music, play an instrument, and have the vocal chops to pull off the total package.

Henley’s debut full-length record High Heels & Sneakers is available now at online retailers and features “From The Get Go” and the song featured here. She is doing well with Twitter followers considering she is an independent artist and is #2 R&B artist in Seattle on ReverbNation. 2014 should be a huge year, so be on the lookout for Tess Henley to take the music world by storm. She can write, sing, play, dance, and look good doing it.

Talented Pop Singer From Down Under Brings The Vocal Thunder

Bred in Sydney, Australia, Emmaline (@iamEmmaline) is a singer and songwriter who will be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. She began writing music at 16 years of age with old school influences Etta James and Nat King Cole on her mind. Fast forward to now, her experience and inspirations have led to her latest effort “Love & Understanding”, with over 11,000 hits on YouTube and counting as well as accessibility on iTunes.

The single, if it obtains North American distribution, has potential to climb the Top 40 Pop and R&B Charts. There is a hint of the Erykah Badu and Gwen Stefani influences Emmaline touts on her official Facebook profile. It’s only a matter of time before she takes the world by storm. Do not expect any meat dresses or twerking to garner attention, though. Emmaline looks to be in the music game for the long haul.

A Poppy R&B Song that Can Bring a Man to Tears

They had a fairly short shelf life, but made the most of it in the late 1980s. This track went to #2 in the U.S.. Not bad for some young, clean-shaven Brits. Sadly, due to other projects and a deceased band member, they will probably never play as a cohesive unit again. Love this love song as you can.