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Review – Jet Black Stare "In This Life" (2008) July 16, 2008

Posted by rawkfistmusic in 2008, Jet Black Stare.
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Written by Andrew “Gravity”

At this point in the year, it’s pretty tempting to write off 2008 as the year of the rock anthem. It’s become pretty trendy to develop a song that has the crowd screaming along to every word, jumping up and down and throwing up their rawkfists (cheap plug). Rev Theory’s “Hell Yeah” and Saving Abel’s “Addicted” stand out as songs that have brought relative unknowns to new heights, something that every new band on the block can only hope happens for them. One of those new bands is Jet Black Stare, a quintet of Canadian rockers who’s debut album In This Life may be the ticket to stardom.

“Ready To Roll”, the album’s opener, is the anthem of which I compare to the previous two. As the chorus kicks in, so do the harmonic vocals sure to unwillingly force you to tap at the accelator as you blaze down the highway to “City lights are burning bright behind, drop down I’m pushing it to the floor.” Tell me that doesn’t sound like “Hell Yeah” all over again. Trust me, it’s not, “Ready To Roll” is entirely different in it’s delivery but no less effective. While the band focuses more on crisp, melodic sound than overall head-banging rock and roll, it makes this track a breath of rock radio fresh air. Don’t be fooled by this start though, this album is sure to pack a surprise.

“I’m Breathing” is next on Jet Black Stare’s itinerary and it brings a total changeup from the first track. This song stands out as catchy and unique, sounding unlike most songs on the radio today and brings back memories of a little-known band called Vonray (look ’em up) with it’s arrangement. By the time the title track and “Every Moment” are finished and you look back at the first four tracks it’s apparent that is the most polished and varied record by a new band in years. Through those four it’s easy to draw comparisons to Hinder and Vonray, but also to 90’s alt rock influences such Better Than Ezra or Vertical Horizon.

Jet Black Stare’s second single off the album should be easier than finding lips on an angel, the melodic “Rearview Mirror.” The example was not coincidence, in fact, “Rearview Mirror” captures the same lightning in a bottle Hinder did with it’s chart-topping hit, and does it almost better. It’s not as dirty, it’s not as blunt, but it’s simple and relatable and sounds just as good as “Lips of an Angel.” If it’s not a Top 40 hit waiting to happen, I’ll eat this disc. Then print this review out, and eat it too. Then eat this computer. You get the idea, it’s that good. “Fly” brings back memories of current Nickelback tunes, providing more ammo for mainstream music, and “I Won’t Let Go” catches you in a web with it’s nifty little intro and chorus that strikes similar to the ballads that make hit radio listeners cry.

“Poster Princess” is another party rock tune that may as well have been written by a sober Josh Todd (Buckcherry vocalist). Dumbed down, that means it’s got the same themes as a dirty lil’ Buckcherry ditty but without the double entendre and unnecessary swearing. “The River” stands out as another great track with a different and cool chorus. “Next To Me”, the album’s final track of eleven, stands out as the only track that DOESN’T stand out. The lyrics are swell, but nothing about the song proves to be any better than most generic rock.

If you haven’t noticed by now, Jet Black Stare carries the spirit of about two dozen different bands in their debut CD. Their influences could range from 90’s alternative rock, to the current pop ballad generation, to the hard rockin’ party fiends. Each track finds it’s own niche and rarely does it start to overlap as one big mess of music. There are several wannabe hits on In This Life as well, in part driven in by the strong vocals of Rod Black, but also thanks to catchy riffs and harmonizing provided by the remainder of the band. Jet Black Stare consistantly sounds like one big happy family, as almost every song features backup vocals to bounce off of Black’s picture perfect voice.

To nitpick for the sake of nitpicking, In This Life does fall victim to “party rock syndrome” which may turn off haters of Buckcherry, Hinder and Saving Abel. Don’t be one of them. Jet Black Stare takes the formula made popular by the aformentioned and makes it more family-friendly and more engaging. If this album succeeds at anything, it’s by being those bands, without beings those bands. It doesn’t make sense now, but it will when you’re done with this disc, six months down the road.

9 out of 10

Download This – “Rearview Mirror”

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