The Stereo - No Traffic (Cover Artwork)

The Stereo

No Traffic (2001)

Fueled By Ramen

The Stereo (of should I say Jamie Woolford) is back in action with a new release. While some misinformed people think that The Stereo are broken up, that is the farthest thing from the truth.

It seemed only a short time ago that Jamie's old band, Animal Chin had disbanded and he was looking to start a new band. At the same time Rory Philips of The Impossibles was as looking to start something new after his band called it quits. By destiny John Janick of Fueled By Ramen got both guys to get together and work on material together. After Jamie drove down from his home of Minneapolis to Rory's hometown of Austin, Texas, The Stereo was born. The rest they say is history.

When The Stereo's first effort "300" was released, it sent shockwaves through the indie world. "300" was brilliant, an epic. Many fans and critics embraced the album. Few debuts released sent so much emotion and excitement that "300" did at the time.

Sadly, after the release of "300" Rory left The Stereo because his old band, The Impossibles got back together. Soon afterward, they released their comeback album "Enter/Return" and started touring again. The Stereo had lost 1/2 of the band, Jamie was left. Soon afterward Jamie went out and formed a power rock new addition of The Stereo with three new members. The new band included Jeremy Tappero, Erik Hanson, and Jeremy Bergo. The newly formed unit went out and toured like crazy playing with bands like Superdrag, Less Than Jake, Ultimate Fakebook, Midtown, and many others. For the first time The Stereo went back into the studio and recorded material without Rory. The result was "New Tokyo Is Calling", a 4 song EP. It received critical acclaim (including here as well) and established The Stereo further more as one great rock band who could do no wrong.

After some more extensive touring the band went into the studio to record this new album, "No Traffic". Just as the this album was finished, once again the formation of this band was forever altered. All three members that Jaime brought in after Rory left, all left the band to form a new band. This news was big and was a shock to many. Once again, Jamie was alone again.

Or is he? Many compare Jamie to Dave Grohl of The Foo Fighters. Not the music aspect, but the one many army aspect. Dave Grohl writes almost all of the Foo Fighters music and plays almost all the instruments as well in recordings. The same is true with Jaime and The Stereo. From the beginning, The Stereo was Jamie's invention, all his heart and soul is in this band. When it was announced that the three members left many thought that The Stereo was done. It is not so. When Rory left, Jamie kept it going and everything turned out fine. The same is true now, the future looks nothing but bright for Jamie and The Stereo.

This new album rocks and proves that Jamie still has it (even though there is some question) after all this time. The first song, "Get Set For Sound" is very appropriate titled. The song starts slow, but it slowly starts to pick up momentum and finally mid way hits the climax. This is a great intro track.  

The next song is "New Tokyo Is Calling". Yes as Stereo fans know this song appeared on the EP of the same name. This version is very minimally different from the original. The place where its most noticeably different (this may be the only time) is leading up in to the first verse, "Don't run away....". I'm not sure if this song was re-recorded or remixed. "New Tokyo Is Calling" is just one of those songs that I never get sick of, it totally rocks.

Many people have compared The Stereo to Weezer and if theres a song to compare them exactly, its track number 3, "Just A Game". The song features many "Whoo Hoos" that are very reminiscent of Weezer. This is just one great all round song. Like most of the Stereo's works, great hooks and great melodies make up the song. Jamie's lyrics are very frank, about a girl who plays games and hes tired of them.

Most material sticks to the formula of "New Tokyo Is Calling". Great riffs, sing along vocals, and great hooks are present throughout this new album. "Unordinary" is one of those tracks that stand out. Its starts out with "This is no ordinary kiss...that you planted on my lips..". Those lines are fed through a vocal effect and then the rest of the instruments come in after some momentum.  

One of my other favorite songs is "Please Don't Break My Heart". This song, every time I listen to it, puts a giant smile on my lips, its just such a great feel good song. The song itself is very sad indeed (from the lyrics) but features a damn catchy riff that you can totally tap your foot too.

I would have to say that I still think "300" is The Stereo's best work to date. Don't get me wrong, this is one great album, I listen to this every day. I think all it is, is that I'm totally spoiled after I've heard "300". "300" was one of those once in a lifetime albums. If "No Traffic" was The Stereo's debut, I would rave and rave about how great this band is, but I don't really need to because most people know that already. I have no doubts that Stereo fans will love this new c.d. and even new fans will love this as well.