CD REVIEW: Stark - Race to the Floor
By: Cyrus Rhodes
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Hard Rock, Progressive Hard Rock
Sounds Like: Pat Benetar, L7, Liz Phair, Joan Jett
Technical Grade: 9/10
Weakness: More musical peak & valley, a few winded songs
New York based 3 piece “Stark” releases their debut CD Race to the Floor” in 2009. Band members consist of Lani Ford (bass & vocals) Joe Hogan (Guitars & vocals) & Eric Robel (drums)
The CD kicks things off with rocking “On the Edge” an impressive intro piece that dishes out solid low end rock groove, with driving rock rhythms against mean sounding guitar. Infectious vocal hooks & harmonies from lead singer Ford. Track 2 “Get It” serves-up another strong piece of music combining hooky guitar with raw vocal passion that methodically flows & ebbs its way through emotional fruition. Track 3 “Getting Along” presents more aggressive rock flair combining mesmerizing guitar rhythms leading you head first into a catchy vocal finale. As the CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical textures reminiscent of classic acts L7, Pat Benetar, Liz Phair, Hole, Garbage & even Joan Jett. The music has everything you would expect from a 3 piece standard – great low end rock grooves, driving distorted guitar rhythms with a few impressive solo’s, catchy melodic vocals & a few well-placed harmonies layered along the way. The vocal style from Ford has a jagged edge to it, but manages to go down very smooth, & sounds in the vein of Pat Benetar, Joan Jett & Lita Ford. As the CD slowly reveals more & more to you its obvious Stark is an accomplished 3 piece (writing and playing). Stark also brings to the table a lot of musical variety via this 9 song EP. From heartfelt “Wasting Air” to rocking “Drunkaholic” to dynamic “Nightmares” this CD has something for just about everyone The CD ends with Track 9 “Puttin’ Out Your Fire” the perfect faille statement for a CD of this caliber.
Vocal harmonies from other band member on track 1 stick out like a sore thumb. I detected some slight timing errors during track 8 “End of the Line” I wish some of the songs had more peak & valley effect to them. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag the listener to the finish line. I also want to hear more blood curling vocal intensity & emotion from Ford, especially during some of the finale moments of the music. Come on girl I know you got it in you – make my hair stand up on end. Scream it like you mean it
Race to the Floor by Stark is an impressive debut statement that clearly proves this 3 piece is a force to be reckoned with. The guitar has bite, the bass & drum rhythms have serious low end groove, the songs are all short & sweet musical experiences, & the overall production is solid. But make no bones about it the primary focus here should be up front, on the female with the 4 string guitar – Lani Ford. She’s got the charisma, he’s got the pipes, the persona, & he plays decent bass guitar. If he just so happened to write all this music - well she could be bigger than any of realize. All in all it makes for a deadly combination.