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Straylight Run - Straylight Run
by Chris Stum
Straylight Run - Straylight Run 
Label: Victory Records
Rating: 
 
Tracks:
Perfect Ending, The
Tension And The Terror, The
Existentialism On Prom Night
Another Word For Desperate
Mistakes We Knew We Were Making
Dignity And Money
Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway)
Tool Sheds And Hot Tubs
It's For The Best
Now It's Done
Sympathy For The Martyr
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Emo. By definition, simply stated, emotional music. In recent years this genre has been tagged to everything from emotionally charged punk rock, to sweet and soft piano charged ballads. Hoards of recent bands have jumped on the Emo bandwagon either finding their true self in the process or getting eaten up and classified as another one of those "Whiney Bands". However, some emo bands do stand up and make a difference, which is exactly where the Straylight Run is coming from. 

Enter vocalist/guitarist John Nolan and bassist Shaun Cooper, names which may sound very familiar to you. Both fellows were members of Taking Back Sunday, both left the band in early 2003 due to personal and professional reasons; they proceeded to start the Straylight Run in March of the same year. Add to that foundation former Breaking Pangaea drummer Will Noon and John’s sister Michelle Nolan on keyboards and vocals, you just about have an all-star cast, but one thing is for sure kids, we definitely have all-star music here.

The debut self titled album from Straylight Run (Victory) starts off on what has become a staple of a lot of emo and indie music. SLOW and SOFT.  The first track of the album is ironically entitled "The Perfect Ending". A slow tempo piano based tune that really sets the stage for the rest of the album covering layers of textures musically, while John Nolan’s vocals strategically weave in and out of the piano. ATTENTION ASPIRING EMO BANDS: The key here, is melody lines, catchy and not overdone. What seems like a lost art in some music today, John Nolan does so well and fills the album up with sing alongs and lyrics that you’ll remember way past your 50th birthday. The pace picks up quickly on the following two songs with some mid tempo rockers titled "The Tension And The Terror", and "Existentialism On Prom Night"creating a strong start to the album. This is where is starts getting great, the band is starting to prove to me that portraits can be painted not only on canvas but in the music studio as well. Add some great guitar effects on "The Tension And The Terror" a long with the moody piano intro on "Existentialism On Prom Night" and you’ll be seeing blue skies and starry nights on the most rainiest of days. 

It’s apparent that the band has much more to offer than memorable melody lines, when the pace picks up, the rest of the band follows. Songs such as "Mistakes We Knew We Were Making" and "Tool Sheds And Hotubs" find drummer Will Noon showcasing his tasteful ability to add depth and a strong percussive backbone to the band. Michelle Nolan’s piano playing and backing vocals are a few of the many highlights of the album, once again, adding an element to the music that truly identifies the band.

But wait, there’s more, yes, that’s right, a lot more. "Another Word For Desperate" is reminiscent of a darker Chris Colburn fronted Buffalo Tom song, "Dignity And Money" has all the elements of greatly crafted pop rock hit. "Your Name Here (Sunrise Highway)" is my vote for ballad of the year (No lighters please). A guitar solo in "Now It’s Done", is all but unheard of in this style of music, but John Nolan pulls off Pink Floyd style riffs with the greatest of ease. Just when you thought "there is no way this album is going to go off on a different path" the Michelle Nolan fronted "It’s For The Best" and "Tool Sheds And Hotubs" will get you grab you, chew you up and spit you out. WOW, I’m left feeling like a child on Christmas Day, wondering what I’ll discover next.

There is not one bad song on the album, it’s one of those pieces that you can listen to from beginning to end and come back for more giving you a different sense of emotion with each listen. John Nolan and Shaun Cooper did their homework during the time they spent with Taking Back Sunday and have recruited pieces to produce a strong album and band to boot. As for me, I certainly do not "get a bad feeling about" the Straylight Run.
 



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