Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: Stone Diamond - We Stole the Stars From the Black Night

Rock and roll is a genre of music that’s oftentimes dismissed by more “serious” fans of music as raucous and uneducated. Its three chords, played LOUD, supported by more loud drums and throbbing bass. And the lyrics and vocalists? Oh, don’t get us started on them. And while there are no doubt plenty of fly by night bands who unwittingly help to support this viewpoint, the deeper music aficionado knows that there is a lot more to rock ‘n’ roll than just loud guitars. And that music fan might readily point to independent act, Stone Diamond, as a case in point.

The players of Stone Diamond each came to music at an early age, Cy (vocals/guitars) kicking off his musical journey by jamming with his uncle at the age of six while, Josh (vocal/guitars) followed suit, beginning playing at eight as The Tongue (drums) started humbly banging a lone drum at the age of six. The youngsters would eventually meet at form a garage band, working to hone their skills together as a tight-knit unit. Now, older, wiser, and well-seasoned, Stone Diamond is ready to unleash its debut, We Stole the Stars From the Black Night, on the world.

The music is intensely all Stone Diamond’s, largely due to Cy’s tackling of producing, songwriting, and engineering, insisting that the band record the album on livetracks, bolstering the live sound and delivering the band’s signature sound just like it’s apt to feel in concert. And with some assistance from drum legend, Ricky Lawson, keyboardist, Toby Philippen, mixer, Noah Shain and for mastering, Grammy Award winner, Brian Lucey, the results are great.

Lawson makes his cameo in the first track, “Love Stays,” a mid-tempo track buoyed by some jangly rhythm guitar and Chris Cornell-feeling vocals. That moody vibe leads into the sterling blues-tinged flow of “Let It Roll,” filled with plenty of soulful guitar licks. The Tongue’s heavy drum beats open up “Flavor of Tears,” banging out a steady intro that unveils a driving guitar line and brooding vocal delivery while “Tattoo” is an emotive rocker that showcases some shredding guitar work, moody and edgy.

“Dark Lover” holds sway with a dark vocal delivery and lyric but the arrangement is bright and energetic, possessed by just a touch of funk before segueing into “U Know,” one of the top tracks on the album. Featuring guest vocals from Mimi Moo, the duet is a slow burner and more vocals reminiscent of Cornell inform the track. The guitar work is solid and Moo’s brooding voice provides the right note of that something extra, giving the track even more life.

Unfortunately, “When We Were Young” drops the ball a bit, largely due to its overly repetitive chorus line that becomes redundant very quickly. The song as a whole feels like it’s trying to do too much and just feels forced. “No Boundaries” rebounds nicely though, bluesy guitars paving the way for solid vocals and an energetic chorus. It accomplishes the juxtaposition of quiet and loud in a way that “When We Were Young” just didn’t. “Just 4 1 Day” follows after, The Tongue banging out a heavy beat while Cy and Josh carve out a bright melody.

“Traumatized” is a track that hearkens back to the great mournful rock ballads of the past, the music sparse yet heavy while the vocals capture the listener, soaring effortlessly and making this another must hear on the record before closing things out with the high energy of “Long Hard 5 Days,” a touch of Lenny Kravitz-styled vocals and funky guitar ending things on a high note.

It’s been a long journey for Stone Diamond, from junior jammers to garage band to what is now a polished and studied rock outfit. And on We Stole the Stars From the Black Night they showcase it all, their musicianship sound and solid as they perform stirring arrangements that provide broad canvases for great vocals. It’s a win-win all the way around and any fan of quality rock and roll will find something worth a listen here.

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