You know that feeling when you occasionally get when you hear a new band and there’s just that indefinable je ne sais pas about them? That feeling that there’s just that slight spark which sets them apart from others in the genre?
Yes? Good. Ladies and gentlemen, meet North Star Infinite.
Their CD, Ghosts That Hide Inside The Walls is rather good. Splendid, in fact. Imagine U2 sacked The Edge and Bono and drafted in some new guys with a fresh approach and a more apocalyptic slant on chord progression. You’re more or less there.
Immovable Object almost put me off. After the initial, gentle, studied intro, the vocals kick in and stop just short of the nerve-grating caterwauling which seems to have permeated the music industry and painted a sign above its head which reads "EMO". Not so, gentle reader. The whole song is tight and controlled and is, after my initial misgivings, a fairly good rock romp. No teen-angst-scream-fest here, brother.
Similarly, Last Sounds is a pleasant, barely subdued excursion into full-on U2 country. (Bono, if you’re reading this, please take a listen…I’m sure the NSI boys will sell you this for the next album, How To Dismantle A QVC Pressure Cooker). Like standing on the rim of an active volcano, this song gives the listener plenty of ominous rumbles under his/her feet, without actually blowing its top.
Mosquitoes Towards The Light is something of a disappointment. After the promising start of the first two tracks, the phrase "we’ve got a riff and we know how to use it" leaps to mind. It's fairly monotonous, and not even a Clash-esque time change in the middle saves it. No doubt this gets 'em dancing in the mosh pit, but, as a listening experience, it doesn’t work.
Mean Old Bastard is not, as my detractors would have you believe, gentle reader, a biographical examination of this correspondent. I mean….they’ve never met me. This starts well, with some neat syncopation and almost some jazzy-blues chords in the vein of early Argent on Ring Of Hands. The track then swaggers into a riff-laden mid-section, with vocalist Joe Webber’s confident vocals pouring out loud and clear, like a hot geyser. No great memorable tune or riffs, but as a slab of music that works.
Tomato Man has some nice chord changes, setting my expectations for a rather more stratospheric song than I actually got. It’s competent enough, but I get the feeling that this was a bit of an afterthought. Pity, because I liked the start of the track (harking back to Bono and the lads ever so slightly again), but felt a bit let down by the unimaginative meanderings which followed. If there was ever clear evidence of too much democracy in a songwriting set-up, then this track is it. Someone in the band has some great ideas, but I feel that they cave in too easily to another band member’s input.
Ghost That Hide Inside The Walls closes with Valentine Kill Spree, a Tull-esque, vaguely end-of-the-sixties extravaganza, spoilt by a sudden change in the quality of both production and accuracy. Again, I get the distinct impression that this is a song-by-committee. Great in parts, decidedly formulaic in others, it reaches an altogether unsatisfactory conclusion none too early.
That said, dig this: these lads are good. More to the point, they have a cohesive sound that lacks something. That "something", however, is an element they already have…a principle songwriter. One of the band (I suspect it to be either Jason Bucci or Jamie Pinto, both on guitar) has a real talent for throwing hooks together and stringing an intelligent chord sequence into an impressive mix. The band must seek a simple resolution to the songwriting process. If they continue as they are, they may (unless they get in front of a producer with a discerning ear) end up as just another band who were merely OK.
Watch out for this lot. With the right break, they could just do it.