Starflyer 59: The Last Laurel (Independent, 2004)
Jason Martin is the master of fuzzy pop, shoegaze, and layers of jangly guitars. He proves it once again with a small group of songs leading into his next full-length of new songs in 2005. The Last Laurel is a consistent ep that does not disappoint. With new alt-country tinges and clean-layered guitars, Martin and Lenz make a tour de force in music.
The first track on Laurel is “Softness, Goodness.” This has acoustic guitar and slide style guitar, giving it an alt-country feel. There are beautiful strings that accompany this song at certain points with light sprinkles of clapping in the chorus. I really like Martin’s vocals on this disc. It feels a lot like a mixture of his vocals on Old and The Fashion Focus. “The Man Who Will Lead” has an even more country feel to it. What saves this track from being hokey is Martin‘s vocal styling. His vox really make the song feel like a SF59 song. I really like this since this is a self-release disc and it really shows another side of Martin‘s musicianship and movement into different musical directions. I suppose I can hear some Mojave 3 type influence on this disc with the alt-country coming into the mix. “The Man” definitely is an extension of the musical vision of Old and really feels like a logical extension of that disc. “Thin as a Needle” also feels like an extension of Old. The drumming on this ep is perfect and accents Martin‘s guitar work masterfully. Lenz and Martin have become a dynamic duo and have made beautiful music together.
“The Lucky Ones” has Lenz signature keys in it and reminds me a lot of “Passenger” of off Old. The guitar work on this song is subtle yet brilliant. I really like the clean layering of guitars that Martin is doing, as apposed to the layers of noise and fuzz of early SF59. “For Us” rounds out this ep with light guitars and claps. Lenz‘ signature keys make an appearance again and really bring depth to the song. This is only 1:39 long, but the track is fantastic for its length and it really closes out the ep well.
The Last Laurel is a great, coherent, well put together five songs. I really have enjoyed Starflyer‘s catalog for sometime and I really like the era that Old has inaugurated. This transitional ep bodes well for Martin‘s next release, teasing his fans and, hopefully, digging up new ones along the way.
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