# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

Staring Back - On

  by Alex Halls

published: 27 / 3 / 2005

Staring Back - On
Label: Lobster
Format: CD


Re-release of 2002 second CD from Santa Barbara punks Staring Back, which proves to be "one of the best over-looked albums in recent years"

Staring Back originally formed in 1997 in Santa Barbara, California and return with a re-release on Lobster Records of the 12-track 2002 record 'On'. The second full-lengther, following debut 'Many Will Play' (2001) and 'The Mean Streets of Goleta EP' (1999), appears aimed at the European market in view of the anticipated release of a new studio album this year. The quintet now stands as; Jason Bradley (vocals); Ryan Mendez (guitar); Vic Breen (bass); Gavin Miller (drums); and Greg Griesser (guitar), the latter having replaced original guitarist Matt Evans long after this record was made. A regular on the 2002 and 2004 Vans’ Warped Tour Staring Back immediately grabs the listener’s attention in one of the best guitaring intros to a punk album in opening track 'Version 2.0'. As a result of this kairotic moment, within minutes of having started, 'On' asserts itself; becoming a force to be reckoned with; one that punches away favourably in intrepid fashion. Backed up all along by some strong, often mitrailleuse drumming, the album continues further with sharp, clean guitaring all the way through, demonstrated to good effect in the riffs in 'Haunted' and the forceful guitars in 'X.Out'. The music becomes especially melodic in 'Note To Self', which is the general style of the vocals on this record and, occasionally the guitars. Introducing catchy segments in 'Invite Only' Staring Back has aimed 'On' at the modern punk market but we must not forget the harder power chords and general guitaring present on the disc; those parts that ultimately drive this album home. There are limitations nonetheless. 'On' does occasionally seem to lose ground at the very time at which it appears to have gained. That is that the originality, which is plentiful, is quite often restricted by sporadic fragility within the songwriting. Already showing promise Staring Back’s vocals are sure to strengthen over time and may develop more of a range, something that isn’t always present on this album. On the basis of this, Staring Back’s 'On' falls only just short of excellent. A little more time spent on backing up the stronger segments of the band’s music will certainly do wonders and help create an album with even more mileage than this. 'On' unquestionably shines through the powerful guitars and a superior, rarely rivaled technique. It dares to venture into catchy terrain, whilst distinguishing itself from the insignificant out there at present. The record is produced by Cameron Webb, who has since gone on to produce Social Distortion’s 'Sex, Love and Rock 'n' Roll' and Sum 41’s 'Chuck'; opportunities that may have developed from the excellent work done on this album, which leaves the raw, impassioned sound as crisp as winter’s first snow. It is one of the best over-looked albums in recent years and one can only wait in impetuous anticipation for the next instalment, which, hopefully, will bring through more original material without sidestepping too often onto the old. If Staring Back can make more songs like 'Version 2.0' then the punk community has plenty to look forward to.

Track Listing:-
1 Version 2.0
2 Seasick While Standing Still
3 X.Out
4 Note To Self: Don't Feel Dead
5 Feel Past The Words
6 Me, 5 Years From Now, Somewhere Else
7 Haunted
8 Invite Only
9 You Say
10 A New Method Of Expression
11 Six Eyes Too Far Away
12 The Problem With Fire

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