Your crusty chronicler is an individual who does his own thing. Still, when Examiner asked for support for their new “List” format, it was nigh impossible not to be open-minded about it. So, with the spirit of unity in mind, your rockin’ reviewer presents this series—“Track by Track” in which we review certain select CDs literally “track by track”.
This edition of the series we (ahem) examine Star Off Machine’s most recent release Wake Me Up. But before we peruse their second full-length release, a bit of background for those readers who missed my first piece on the band, Star Off Machine is a Southern California based rock band founded in 2007. (For those who are curious, the group’s moniker references the children’s book The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss.) The current line-up included: Erick Holloway (lead vocals), Robin Charlet (lead guitar and backing vocals), Greg “Tut” Tuthill (drums) and Aaron Wilder (bass).
(Please view the photos to learn more about the music.)
“Wake Me Up”
Their latest disc contains 11 tracks. The album opener is the titular track “Wake Me Up”. Not to be confused with the song by Swedish DJ Avicii, this is an original song that not only effectively introduces listeners to the group’s signature sound but also might very well sum up the attitude of the entire project. It has an interesting accompanying video as well.
The second selection is the song “Left Behind”. This is one of their video singles that keeps the band heading in the same direction. The vocals work well on this cut with a noteworthy balance between background and lead. It focuses on the idea of ridding oneself of everything that hurts us and holds us back from being our best and living a good life. It’s got an aggressive groove to it to boot.
“Lacerate” and “Blend”
The songs “Lacerate” and “Blend” are also included here. Again, the band’s tuneful trademarks are present. So too can the careful listener cull a couple of lyrical couplings that demonstrate their abilities to write meaningful lyrics as well. The ideas on this album may not always be new but the group is able to own them with their personal perspective.
The next number is the musically masterful “Make Me”. This one has what can only be described as fluidity to it in terms of the guitar work and musical style. The standard template would not require this of the band but they go for it anyway and pull it off.
The sixth songful serving is titled “Belong”. This is one of the best bits here. This includes another example of taking a universal concept previously covered by other artists and making it seem new by owning it. The thought of taking so many steps to get somewhere you don’t want to go may not be a novel thought but the group expresses it uniquely and underscores it with their own trademark tune.
The seventh selection is the song “Sunday Driver”. This one is aptly named as the song does, indeed, move. Sometimes we try and try again and when it just doesn’t work we have to move on just like the music does on this stand alone cut. This certainly has commercial possibilities.
The eighth audio offering off the album is the precise piece “Falling Down”. This is apparently also an early fan favorite. The band is in synch here and they certainly prove themselves as a viable unit. While not your critical critic’s favorite the chorus not only saves the song but makes it worthy of multiple plays.
“Scars” comes in next here. (Your “cut-up” chronicler really wonders why this one wasn’t slotted in behind “Lacerations”.) Still, the songs all work on the CD in that they all sound as if they were part of a larger body of work the band had been working on for quite some time but not previously found a home for until now.
“Power of One”
“Power of One” comes in to actually demonstrate the ability of four to unite as one. It includes some noteworthy guitar work, pulsing but not overbearing bass and a great beat. They merge musically creating a memorable moment. This rocker also has some real possibilities in terms of commercial use. It’s a slice of soundtrack.
“Side of Me”
The album’s end-note is “Side of Me”. This tells the torrid tuneful tale of a relationship on the ropes due in part to addictions. This, like much of the material here, is edgy rock. The themes here seem to all reference the ideas of not letting others run your life and not allowing a good life to just slip through your fingers. This, too, is one of the selected singles and that should be no surprise to anyone who hears it.
This band certainly sounds like they’re going somewhere. So check out Star Off Machine’s Wake Me Up or you just might get “Left Behind”.
My name is Phoenix and . . . that’s the bottom line.