STARRING Abcdefg-Hijklmnop-Qrstuv-Wxyz CD/LP

Note: I will not be re-writing the title of this record throughout this review. It will be referred to as “the album” or “the record” from here on out.

Starring’s second full-length is a stunning, modern prog record of epic proportions. As a matter of fact, Starring’s front-lady aptly considers her band “sparkle prog”. Fine by me. Each of the album’s six tracks sparkle and fade fantastically.

Musically, “The Best” is incredible. Lyrically, it’s the worst. Why guitarist/vocalist Clara Hunter thought it’d be a good idea to quote Tina Turner/Toyota Camry’s “Simply The Best” is beyond me. Better than all the rest, it is not, but it is the only vocal mis-step on the whole record. The vocals are sparse and tastefully placed throughout the rest of the album. “Ie” starts like a CAVE or Oneida jam would but transitions quickly into a much more progressive ditty. Not a bad thing, in this case. The changes keep the jam from becoming boring and show the band’s laudable technical prowess. The percussion and keys on “----------Oooooooooooooo” (Did I really have to type that out just now? It’s like Starring want me to hate them) is reminiscent of Philip Glass and the guitar work on it is complementary. The heaviest track on the album “Aphonia” has a bit of a Kinski vibe. A rad and oddly cohesive mix of styles to be sure.

Alex Ness’s album art graphics are tough to look at, but this record isn’t tough to listen to. It’s an album of working class progressive rock tunes. All of which are technically sharp without being obtuse and hypnotic without being tiresome. It’s thoughtfully paced and neither of it’s two nearly ten minute songs actually feel like their length. I’m not sure why Starring chose to be so obnoxious with their album/song titles, but in this case it’s worth overlooking.

If Magma were on Load Records, they’d be co-Starring. [Northern Spy]

-Arsenic Blare

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Starring "Aphonia" from the album ABCDEFG-HIJKLMNOP-QRSTUV-WXYZ (Northern Spy) from Matt Marlin on Vimeo.

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