Bedford Drive – The Last Time I Saw the Stars

Bedford Drive
The Last Time I Saw the Stars

The Last Time I Saw the Stars has certainly been a long time coming for Bedford Drive. Singer/guitarist Scott Anger, guitarist Ed Sertage, and drummer Jay Croft have played together for almost nine years in various incarnations around the Detroit area. However, it was the 1999 addition of long-time friend and bassist Michelle Bojanowski that pushed Bedford Drive to fill out the sound they’d been toying with since 1995.
Bedford Drive’s original three-song demo EP relied mainly on Anger’s strong vocals and Sertage’s chugging guitar riffs. It wasn’t a bad beginning to a recording career, but light years of maturity and discipline have reared up between that demo and The Last Time I Saw the Stars. Anger’s persistence with his guitar playing have given the band a truly formidable duo of rhythm guitarists, and he’s scaled back the previously dominant tones of his voice a bit to allow the music to be Bedford Drive’s focal point. The vocals still cut through strongly, but the psychotic wails and screams of previous material like “Pulse” have been replaced with three-part harmonies and dual guitar rhythms that range from intricate to downright frenzied.
It doesn’t hurt the band at all that collectively, Bedford Drive can write some damned nice songs. “Incredible L” is a fine example, a haunting number featuring a ton of solid rhythm guitars and one of those slower, yet infectious choruses that sticks in a brain like peanut butter on the roof of a mouth. “Not Minding, Loving” is another more contained number that thrives on a bed of coolly intense rhythm guitars, especially during the chorus. This is definitely the ‘nicest’ listening experience here, and it’s possibly the best piece of actual songwriting the band shows here.
Lest anyone get the impression that the entirety of this disc is based on ‘nice’ listening, let me set down a reassurance that a majority of this disc is upbeat, catchy, and, at some points, frantic. The disc’s title track stands out as the most intense listen on the disc, as the band’s fierce swell gives way to a guitar and voice passage that’s just long enough to give ears a false sense of security. Of course, that’s when the rhythm section booms back in, the guitars crunch away, and the band chugs away through a thick chorus with a touch of sweetness added by the male/female vocals.
“Never Saw It” is a three-minute rocker that never lets up, though the real standout as far as off-the-wall pacing goes is the “It Fits Together.” Distinct rhythm guitars shred over a solid, stutter-step rhythm section, while the band drops lyrical nods to the Karate Kid (“Like as if Mr. Miyagi gave up on Daniel-San”) and LL Cool J (“Don’t call it a comeback / I’ve been here for years”) in a very fun listen. “Bittersour” is an upbeat, rousing number a la older Get Up Kids material, though the song makes it’s impression more on the three-way harmonies that dominate the mix than on the catchy rhythm. The guitars, of course, are top-notch, especially during the ‘lull’ that features some quieter guitar interplay that builds to quite a powerful ending for the track. The band’s occasional sense of lyrical fun shows up again here, thanks to the Sertage’s backing vocal quip of “Now I know I don’t need you to be strong / To get along (like the Get Along Gang)” near the close of the track.
“Alarm Sounds” is a catchy number that features a few slow builds into swelling bursts of guitars, as well as a few of Anger’s stronger vocal moments on the record (during the chorus, especially). The song itself is a mesh of the guitar sounds and pacing featured in the other tracks, somewhat cramming everything into one really nice five-minute listen. Of course, Bedford Drive must not have felt like they’d been diverse enough yet, as “Even If I Go” kicks off with over a minute of guitar sounds that sound like they belong more on a metal record than anything else. The fierce opening gives way to a catchy little verse/chorus setup before cutting out rather suddenly.
All in all, this half-hour disc is quite a listen. Bedford Drive’s managed to throw a little bit of everything into these eight songs – a few really nice songs, a few catchy sing alongs, a few aggressive rockers, and lyrically, everything from poetic (“And when I step outside to look up at the night sky / I think of the last time I saw the stars in your eyes”) to pop culture references. One solid rhythm section, two well-mixed and well-used rhythm guitars, and strong three-part harmonies add up to eight solid tracks on The Last Time I Saw the Stars. Recommended.