Northstar - Is This Thing Loaded? (Cover Artwork)


Is This Thing Loaded? (2002)

Triple Crown

Just around the time I became bored to tears with my entire CD collection, Fred and the fabulous people at Triple Crown Records come to my rescue with the debut LP from one of the industry's most hard working, genuinely talented bands.

Northstar, a four piece outfit hailing from the dirty-dirty south (Hunstville, Alabama), have made a name for themselves in the indie rock community the DIY way. With the help of years of touring the national club scene alongside such bands as Taking Back Sunday, Brand New, Further Seems Forever, and The Stryder, releasing a 400-selling, self-produced demo, and garnering what seems to be a never-ending supply of good word of mouth, Northstar's hype is exploding. I had heard about this band through the boys of Taking Back Sunday (who shamelessly, yet effectively, promote Northstar if ever given the chance), so naturally I had to hear this record.

The first track, "My Ricochet," gives you a quick-yet-vague introduction to the band's sound - a slick mix of classic rock, layered singing/screaming vocals, loud guitars, and catchy, ear-friendly melodies. Almost immediately the lead singer's voice reminded me of Third Eye Blind-front man Stephen Jenkins'. Passionate and precise, he wonderfully carries each song through each soft transition, and then proceeds to drive you straight into the chorus at full force, never loosening his grip on your attention, and never once straying off key.

The title track - with its humable melody, and sing along-style lyrics - almost sets the tone for the entire record. Although, to me, the stand out track (a.k.a.: "The song that made me get off my ass and dance around in my underwear") would have to be "Broken Parachute." Ladies and gentlemen, this song has it all. I'm a huge fan of well-written, original, NOT TYPICAL lyrics. This song has them, along with insanely loud/forceful guitars, soft breaks, smooth bass lines, and a few sporadic "la da da"'s. There's even a drum solo! What more could a girl ask for?!

There isn't one classified slow song on the record. The guitars remain loud throughout; but refrain from becoming relentless, thanks to the help of smart song arrangement posing as a buffer between the hard and soft sections. Sweet, to the point, never redundant, and always fun; in my opinion, this is precisely how a rock'n'roll record should sound.