Various Artists – S.T.A.R.S Compilation: Solar Technology and Rock Songs

Various Artists
S.T.A.R.S Compilation: Solar Technology and Rock Songs

The idea of a release without a cause is out the window in the case of this one. Inspired by late 70’s/early 80’s efforts M.U.S.E and No Nukes concerts, this release donates proceeds to the promotion of solar energy use and education. The best part is that all 19 tracks are themed around some indication of the sun, and the title S.T.A.R.S. stands for Solar Technology and Rock Songs. Pretty noble and considerate as well as environmentally friendly, right?
Unfortunately, I don’t recognize any of the bands despite the fact that the disc has a wide range of artists from all over the world. This is most likely due in part to the genres represented here, which sort of lean toward more easy listening indie-rock for an older audience. Also, by indie-rock, I don’t mean that genre tied in with the term lately that includes the trendiest music we hear today. I mean these are independent artists to my knowledge, self-releasing or not bound to contract by any label. Without looking at each individual bands’ websites, I couldn’t tell you if this is their only released material to date.
I love the inside artwork that gives me the feeling of smoky, stuffy science class, and the inside shows a bright warm flower shining with sunlight. As for themes in the titles, they have the same feeling, but the sounds are a whole different story. While the messages seem to be uplifting and sunny sometimes, I get that all-to-familiar feeling of the bars you see in passing as a child and the live band of older aged men and woman. Tambourines are no stranger to these types.
Not that this is a bad release, it’s just not what I see for my generation’s preferred listening. I could sit in my parents’ car while the album is on and not be bothered, but I wouldn’t really get into any of these songs. I don’t want to say it’s not worth the money because it’s going to a great cause. I also believe an older audience is the intended audience for this release. I’m not sure how many 40+ readers come to this magazine, but I truly admire the effort.
Songs that stand out as memorable would be “Day Break” by Lady J for the beautiful voice of the singer and her 60’s style. Also Ricky Bee’s “Sunny Boy” is the brink of what current bands The Faint and the like are after: true new-wave sound. The following track, “Summertime” by Simon Stinger, has Johnette Naplitano (Concrete Blond) meets female vocals in the genre of Toni Basil’s “Hey Mickey.” Basically, singer Alicia Perrone has an accent going despite the fact that the band comes from San Francisco. It’s not a bad tune, possibly one of the better on the disc. Sandmouth from Ontario, Canada had a singer with a very strong Fuel-like voice, which stood them apart as an enjoyable addition or band with a bourne, and it’s possibly the most “hip” track of the bunch.
But this disc is all over the place. You have everything from Black Sabbath to Pink Floyd to Bob Dylan to John Cougar Mellencamp to Sean Penn. As far as covering all grounds, this compilation has it down. There are more good songs than bad, but none really stood out, yearning for a second spin. Overall a great effort, most likely well suited for some tastes.