Star Bag – S/T

To speak first to the impressive points . . . “Everyone is on the Moon,” track two, is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from what a Wayne Coyne composition might sound like without all the majesty of the other Flaming Lips or their space-age production magic. It’s slow and sugary with high dreamy vocals and lyrical content to match. As the arrangement unfurls, countless guitars wander in from adjacent singer/songwriter genres to fill up the speakers in much the same fashion (but not with the same mastery of course) that an younger Doug Martsch has made famous. Other solid efforts include the waltzy “My Big Secret,” which rises above several cliches with some truly emotive slide guitar, as well as the poppity pop pop pop of the albums opener “I Just Can’t Wait.” The singer’s voice is clear and strong, and though a little hampered by his affectations and dramatic tone, it’s not hard to imagine him singing some strong power pop numbers from the 70s. (I find this refreshing.)
And then of the not so impressive . . . Too often here do Star Bag’s influences overpower their songs and make them sound derivative. Though certainly a talented songwriter, the group’s leading man, Clint Myers, is guilty of trading originality for predictability and makes a bad habit of spreading the cheese on a bit too thick. The strong numbers here are almost canceled out by the truly bad ones like “My Way Back Home” and the truly pointless closing track, “Give Me a Place,” and one gets the idea that these two were included not because the band thought they were so good, but because they had recorded them so they might as well just slip them on there. Cliches abound throughout the record, and though sometimes they can slip by unnoticed, when they aren’t so well disguised they can cause a listener like this one to cringe and scrunch his brow. This is not to say that the writing is all that bad. Actually, Mr. Myers’ worst moments rub shoulders with his best. His pen is filled with fresh imagery and evocative lines, he just needs to learn to determine the good ink from the bad ink. Oh and lay off the goofy Pink Floyd reverb. It’s stinky like Camembert.
This is a solid effort revealing a definite talent in bad need of a mentor or editor, or probably just less of a one-man show if Star Bag is to graduate from the upper reaches of the middle into something that could really grab an audience and take them somewhere.