Staring Back - On (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Staring Back

On (2002)


Maybe you are familiar with this Goleta band, as they are on Lobster for quite some time now, having released an EP "The Mean Streets of Goleta" (1999) and full-length "Many Will Play" (2001), although the members are all still in their early 20's. The weird thing is that I didn't recall how they sounded, because I judged their last effort as rather dull and flat.

But!! A while before "On" was to be released I downloaded some tracks of this new album and I instantly knew that this one was going to be special. And I can tell you that this was no mistake: Not a boring second on this release, proving a real transformation is the least you can say. The songs are filled with ball-catching melodies at times, while there's the nowadays inevitable passionate parts as well, although they deserve credit for having these parts only last for a few seconds. The ingenuity in songwriting these guys have acquired themselves is really astonishing considering their previous releases.

And although I have to admit that the sound has some affection with present-day catchy "vocal" punkrock like Midtown, this album has clearly more powerful guitarplay, definitely more varying pace and a lot more daring (sometimes near screaming)vocals. The technicality of their guitarplay and pace of drums reaches Lagwagon standards. It's like a melodic hardcore band that's trampling down pop-punk songs.

Three songs got my stamp of highest approval for different reasons. "Six Eyes Too Far Away" has got the most beautiful vocalparts, "X.Out" is the absolute summit of tough technical guitarplay and "Feel Past The Words" is my favorite song with one of the best choruses I ever heard thanks to an amazing guitar looping through eminent vocals. I just can't understand why they repeat that chorus just once and not again at the end of the song.

Could it be that producer Cameron Webb (Lit, Tenacious D, Park, Dynamite Boy) had a big part in the overwhelming change of this band? Or is it just maturity? I don't really care, this is an example of entertaining hard-hitting modernday punkrock and I think it can be picked up by really everyone who enjoys good vocals and infectious guitarplay, whether you like it catchy or hard.