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Starflyer 59
My Island
Tooth & Nail Records

For fourteen years, indie rock singer-songwriter Jason Martin from Riverside, California has been releasing albums under the band name of Starflyer 59. He has been the one constant factor of Starflyer 59's space rock atmospheres and shoegaze style, with other musicians in the band fluctuating on each album. On his tenth studio album My Island, Martin experiments with influences of ambient-pop, '50s hard-bop, and echoey nu wave textures. Starflyer 59 is a part of the nu-gaze domain, recalling the synth-pop fuzz and reverberating guitar effects of My Bloody Valentine, Golden Earring, and Pink Floyd. Martin's shoegazy, space rock tones share the roost with electro-pop and ambient-pop factions.

Neo-classical synth-guitar shreds and dark mysterious vocals are tenets of Starflyer 59's music, a style which is attached to artists like The Cure, The Jesus And Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr., Lush, and Ride, to name a few. Though Starflyer 59 has not reached the commercial success of its predecessors, its music is equally on par with them. Martin's vocals vacillate between a dark, melancholic timbre like Leonard Cohen to a dusky, haunting resonance synonymous with Jeff Buckley. The heavily distorted oblique guitar tones moving through the fluffy synths, heavy bass swaggers, and repetitive drum lashing create muddy hazes throughout the album. Melodies are surfeit with sonic fuzz and guitar riffs swirl and reverberate but also craft bright jangling sounds like in the tracks "The Frontman" and "Ideas For The Talented."

Shoegazers got their name because of their guitarists obsession with working with the pedal effects on the floorboard at their feet, like The Edge from U2 is known for doing. The sonic feedback and build up of static produced from overdubbing sequences and sampling makes a wall of sound which Starflyer 59 generates throughout the melodies. The muddled fuzz accumulated by piling up the layers floods the music with indistinct lines and makes a lot of sonic fluff. A slow funky bass groove underscores the fuzz and static and a deep country flange layered inside the melody gives the songs an inner substance. The '50s hard-bop rhythm on "Pearl Of Great Price" gives the album a tinge of retro-rock through the space rock passages. Guitar phrases beat briskly on tracks like "It's Alright Blondie" and "Mic The Mic" cultivating nu wave textures familiar to Monsters Are Waiting and The Secret Handshake's music. The song "Division" meshes a repetitive guitar lick that reflects the high pitched iridescent tones of a recorder with ambient-pop fillings, while the licks on "I Win" have a dark ridged twang along heavy bass grooves. The synth-pop layers on "Nice Guy" amass rotund hazes undercoated by heavy bass grooves and flapping drum strikes.

Though many shoegazers have found a steady following, such a reaction has slipped through Starflyer 59's fingers. My Island has the musical chops of The Cure, the iridescent tones and enameled hazes synonymous with The Cocteau Twins, and the expansive static fuzz of Spiritualized, honing music fashioned with melodic clasps and space rock passages. Jason Martin and company may not have the following of The Cure, but band members show that nu gaze is very much a relevant music faction which they wish to shape to reflect present day.

-Susan Frances

Track listing:
1. The Frontman
2. Lifeguard
3. Pearl Of Great Price
4. My Island
5. It's Alright Blondie
6. Mic The Mic
7. Division
8. I Win
9. Nice Guy
10. Ideas For The Talented

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