The Stranger's Six - The Inaugural (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Stranger's Six

The Inaugural (2004)


It's an interesting discretion at times with indie rock as to just what separates it from the type of rock you'd hear on the radio. Sure, nobody in their right mind is going to confuse Godsmack with Neutral Milk Hotel, but separating those types isn't always a case of black and white, good and bad. The Stranger's Six are exactly the type of band that make this example work. Straddling the line between indie rock and K-Rock, The Inaugural would certainly be enjoyed by fans on either side of the fense.

The band goes against the conventions of radio rock in a few different ways; for one, this is a DIY release, and in that rite, it's damn impressive. The overall package is overwhelmingly professional, from the cover art and liner notes down to the production, which is nothing short of spectacular. The lyrical themes are darker and much more visual than anything from the last Staind album, albeit presented in a somewhat clichéd matter. There's much talk of blood, knives, and that type of content that's been more or less done to death over the past few years. Lyrical shortcomings aside, what appears in the liner notes is, if nothing else, presented in a pretty appealing manner.

There's no immediate comparisons conjured up by singer Aaron Thompson between himself and any other singers, though splashes of Brandon Boyd and Davey Havok can each be heard in sporadic moments through the songs. Thompson carries the weight of the songs reasonably well, injecting some solid harmonies over the rhythms of the guitar and drums, his only detractor being the lyrics mentioned earlier. There's some background screaming thrown in in what seems to be at random times, and while all by itself it sounds fairly decent, I can't help but think that it's just a bit unnecessary. Minor complaints aside, songs like "Cherchez Le Femme" illustrate the band's penchant for tight harmonies and big choruses. They tiptoe a careful line, sounding big without being outlandish or overdoing any specific element. They seem to be a band that strives on the assembly of individual elements.

It's the production that puts each element at the forefront when it needs to be. A great sound for a DIY effort, the drumming is fairly simple, but very apparent, and the guitar tones are felt just how they're intended. "Walking Alone" shows Thompson sounding much like Incubus' Brandon Boyd during the verses, singing over some jangly clean chords, and again, the Strangers Six's choruses seem to be the intended highlights of the songs, this song being absolutely no exception.

The Inaugural stands as one of the best DIY efforts I've heard in the year so far, no matter how much it sounds like it could potentially be catered to modern rock radio, with its simple formulas and standard song lengths, the only exception being the 15-minute closer, "Rejoice." Regardless of mostly cliché lyrical content, and a lack of real standout elements, this is still a very enjoyable album that's worth a few spins, and if nothing else, a decent set if you were to catch them live.