Shiner – Starless


I bought Shiner on the suggestion of many people who ranted and raved about how good this album was. But from the very first riffs of the very first song, I began to cringe. This sounds so mainstream, so typical, so usual that I almost didn’t even get through the first listen. Powerful guitar riffs, powerful vocals, powerful rhythm. It’s all about power, and it’s been done by bands ranging from Soundgarden to Fuel.
Still, I have to admit that I gave this album a second chance, and it began to grow on me. While some of the songs evoke that same reactions, others have more originality and intensity. I’m still stuck comparing them to any of a thousand other bands, but that doesn’t always equate to terrible music – just completely forgettable and regrettable music.
From the very first guitar licks of “Spinning,” and when Allen Epley’s deep, slightly drawled vocals start in, I’m wondering what I got myself into. This is the kind of hard rock band I used to see all the time in Baltimore, Md., opening for one band or another, all sounding very similar, with some massive guitar licks and rhythms and vocals that remind you of Creed, Pearl Jam and the like. But “Giant’s Chair” has some synthesizers and a bit more layering of the guitars and rhythm for a decent effect. And then on from there, there are moments that I enjoy and moments that I’ve heard a million times without ever enjoying. “Kevin is Gone” has some light moments that work well but also some crunchy Soundgarden-esque guitar. And while I swear I’ve heard “Unglued” done before almost exactly, at least “The Arrangement” is nice and slow and wistful. And then I have virtually nothing to say about the rest of the album. A few good guitar licks here (like on “Lazy Eye”), a few too many metal references there (like on “Semper Fi”). Don’t even get me started on the terrible “Too Much of Not Enough.” Why do all of these style bands feel the need for a space-themed song?
Ok, so if you’re one of those who told me how good Shiner is and how I must run out and buy this album, I think I need to make it more clear what type of rock music I enjoy. This is the kind of stuff that will be played on your city’s harder rock station, in between Korn and Blink 182. It’s power-chord rock with an emphasis on the vocals. Now it’s not bad, by any means, and some of the songs are actually quite good. But it’s not for me.