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CD REVIEW: Stateside - 'Distance'
By Steve Allat - 03/16/2004 - 08:31 PM EST

Artist: Stateside
Album: 'Distance'
CD Review: Label: Independent - Shark Dog Records
Tracks: 9
Released: 2003
For Fans Of:: R.E.M., 54-40
Fav Track: Unseen Star, Sweetness (hidden track).

So here I am, listening to the second song of Stateside's debut CD thinking 'there isn't really much here to distinguish this from most of the light rock I hear every single day' when . . . VOILA! Or, more exactly, VIOLA!! Music to my ears, and Stateside's first saving grace.

Now, sailing along through the rest of the CD, labeled as an 8-song disc, I'm beginning to summarize the overall feeling and sound, when I hear something else . . . Track 9! Once I heard it, I knew that I was beginning to really hear the Stateside I was hoping I would hear more of earlier on.

There is work to be done here, to make the songs more interesting and to make them simply sound better and make them easier to listen to.

Musically, the structure of the songs need a bit of work. It's like they were put together in pieces without enough attention to the big picture sonically. What I mean is that having acoustic, clean electric and electric solos with effects need to be more well thought out. The viola is simply sublime, and its use is fantastic. The main 'problem' with it, however, is that it is recorded so well, and at a level above the other instruments, that it only made me wish the rest of the music was treated the same way. If this is the signature, it will still stand out from the rest with better production.

Brandon's vocals seem a bit unsure a good part of the time, and many lines could be sung better and with more conviction to deliver the positive, heartfelt messages we hear in the lyrics, When he sings 'I am not the rock of ages', I want to believe him. His aim is true, it's just the delivery that is a little off the mark. A few less words may do that trick. More vocals, as in layering, effects or background would also be beneficial.

Underneath the vocals, which are prominent, I can hear interesting guitar work happening. Confident fingers. But, alas, they are a bit muddled and simply buried. The songs need more of a balance, and then the vocals won't be as prominent.

And, most importantly, is the passion behind the obviously important words. If they are important enough to be written down, then I believe they are important enough to be delivered in a way that shows he means it. With confidence, and maybe a little edge, as in the lines 'except I'm leaving, I'm gonna close my eyes and leave this all behind' from 'P.S.'.

For such positive lyrics, the tone is sometimes a bit dreary as well - but I think with a little soul-searching, a new voice will come out that reflects the songs more truly.

All in all, a good solid base of songs and songwriting from which to build. A little time, reflection and realization are all that separate Stateside from the next level.

Contact: Brandon de la Cruz
Website: Shark Dog Records

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