Thursday, November 23, 2006

Starflyer 59 - My Island

Jason Martin is nothing if not a student of rock music, and his catalog of albums (under the name Starflyer 59) is proof of that. If you wanted to, you could listen through each of their albums and point out specific influences. In fact, without many people noticing, Starflyer has consistently been making some of the best, most original albums over the past 13 years.
My Island is no different…and, by that I mean it is, yet again, another great chapter in an already amazing history of the band. On this album, Martin’s love of underground 80s rock is in full swing. Whether it’s the driving guitars and drums of the opener, “The Frontman”, or the bass driven, groove centric “Nice Guy”, or the stomping, clap-happy, Smiths influenced closer “Ideas For the Talented”, his admiration for the “overlooked” period of the 80s is definitely the driving force behind this album.
And that’s pretty cool. While the rest of the music world is focused on crafting their around new-wavers New Order, the Pet Shop Boys, and every other band who had a massive hit on the radio between ’82 and ’90, Starflyer is intent on bringing back those who were making music during that area, but whose music rarely graced the airwaves. Martin’s influence comes from The Smiths, Sonic Youth, My Bloody Valentine, The Sundays, and many others who were largely overlooked in their day.
This album can’t necessarily be seen as a mission to bring those artists back into the forefront, but, if that were the intention, one would have no choice but to sit up and take note. Even now, as I sit here listening to this album, I’m thinking to myself, “You know, I should probably pop in The Queen is Dead a little later.”
And that’s really the beauty of Starflyer. They can wear their influences boldly on their sleeve, but it never seems ripped-off or tired…rather, it becomes an homage to those artists who came before, and gives a glimpse into what makes pop music great now. Starflyer takes a lot from their influences, but they always put their own stamp on whatever they do.
It’s getting fairly late, and this may be getting a little rambling and incoherent, so I’ll end on this:
On the final song, “Ideas For the Talented”, Martin sings, “My ideas, they outweigh all the talent I own.” If that statement holds any truth at all, I have only one thought: if this album (or any Starflyer album, for that matter) represents only a fraction of what he’s capable of…well…if his talent ever catches up with his ideas, he won’t be able to be ignored any longer.
Starflyer is one of the greatest bands of my lifetime. If you’ve yet to check them out, I urge you to do so immediately. And, if you are going to check them out, this is not a bad place to get started.

Rating: 8.6

Essential Tracks: “The Frontman”, “Nice Guy”, “Pearl of Great Price”

Favorite Tracks: “I Win”, “Ideas For the Talented”

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