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High Noon

  The Lost Patrol  
Release Date:

late 2004

Reviewed by:

The Lost Patrol are an independent pop act from New York. Unbelievably, this is their fifth release (following 2 EPs and 2 other albums) in five years. Apparently they are a rather productive, if unsigned, band.

Their sound is based around the rich vocals of Danielle Kimak Stauss and the dueling guitarwork of Stephen Masucci and Michael Williams. Stauss is the first thing to notice about this band: her voice is deep and rich, like a young Johnette Napolitano, and she has remarkable control. She really uses this instrument well. Masucci and Williams back her up with intertwined guitars that often remind me of the dynamic interplay between Marty Wilson-Piper and Peter Koppes in The Church. That is, these two guitarists each play rather sparse parts which combine to form a really beautiful whole. Overall, i am impressed with the musicianship i see here.

One thing on this album: it's called High Noon, which brings to my mind images of Clint Eastwood movies where he wanders around the old west shooting people. (Brendan's Note: High Noon is a 1952 Western starring Gary Cooper, not Clint Eastwood.) The guitarwork on this album features lots of tremolo, and, after repeated listens, i think this is a conscious effort on the part of Masucci and Williams to invoke a certain "old west" feel. I think that they succeed, although Stauss's vocals are more jazz/pop, so the effect is not total. I point this out because if you were to go and download the songs on their website and then get this album, High Noon will sound somewhat different. I don't know if the cowboy fetish is a permanent change in direction for them, but at least it is subtle and well done.

The songs on this album are pretty good, and in particular i enjoy the odd numbered tracks. I'm not really sure why that is, it's just when i made my list of the tracks i really like, track numbers 1, 3, 7, and 9 stand out to me. That's very, well, odd isn't it? At any rate, let me discuss these tracks briefly.

The album's opener is called All Around, and starts with a nice drum riff and some soaring guitars, and gets really good on the chorus where Stauss wails her vocals. Her voice is what makes this tune, although the vaguely eerie bass riff in the background is a good thing as well.

Salvia, our next odd numbered track, features some vocals in, i think, Spanish. Well, either Stauss sings some of her words in a foreign language, or i need to have my ears checked -- i can't decide which. At any rate, this is a light, acoustic song that swells up on the choruses. When it gets louder, the guitars cascade in layers for a Church-like effect. Very nice.

The next track i really like combines the best bits of the previously mentioned songs. It's called Ultimatum and features Stauss really pushing her voice, accompanied by wonderful layers of guitarwork. Actually, here i think the guitarwork dominates the voice, but in a rather complimentary way.

The final standout track (for me at least) is called Tonight, and is very different for The Lost Patrol. This song features prominent synths, a slippery effected bass sound, and western style guitars. Suddenly, The Lost Patrol are channeling the 80's, especially on the chorus, which is full of synth strings and sleigh bells. Wasn't this song featured in a John Cusack movie in 1987? Yeah, it's that good.

Those four tracks are the real standouts to me, which is not to say that the rest of the album is awful. Well, actually, i must admit that their cover of You Only Live Twice, a James Bond movie theme song, doesn't do anything for me. The synth strings sound weak when you compare the song to the original, and although Stauss does have a good voice, i just don't like what she does here. Personally, i like her better when she is rocking out, singing loudly and forcefully, belting out the tunes. Here she tries to be hushed, and it just doesn't work for me.

Overall though, i really like this album. It's good, solid pop music with nice guitarwork and powerful vocals. I bet these people rock in concert....

Related Links:
  The Lost Patrol have several songs available for download on their website.  

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