Monday, June 12, 2006

The Stills

The Stills – Without Feathers – 2006
4 stars out of 5
Download- Helicopters

In March of 2006 I had the pleasure of viewing a Stills show at the Shelter (the St. Andrews below St. Andrews/ Eminem’s rap battle home). I was really close (literally pushed against the “stage”) and I did get some good pictures. Unfortunately, as earlier stated, this Detroit show was in March. The Stills new album didn’t come out until May. The only new things I had even heard from the Stills since 2003’s incredibly awesome Logic Will Break Your Heart was one song (Killer Bees) from a 2005 EP, a song that the Stills didn’t even play. All and all it really was a great show, although, incredibly different from what I expected. The Stills added a fifth member to their crew, an organist. Which didn’t exactly match their neo-new-wave post-punk-revival synthesizers and heavy electric rock-pop catchy-as-fuck songs that really just sounded like a more marketable Echo & The Bunnymen or Joy Division of the 80s.

The show was great. Classic songs like Lola, with a little more 70s rock twist (substituting synthesizers with organs, which continued through the show). In my opinion they didn’t play enough old songs, and too much new stuff, which was technically unfair because their new album hadn’t even come out yet, so even if us fans wanted to get their new album to know what the hell they were playing, we couldn’t. All I knew was In The Beginning because that is their new single and the only downloadable, pre-release. The Stills also played Changes Are No Good, unfortunately no Animals and Insects, my favorite Stills tune but I think the awesome encore including Still In Love Song and Retour A Vega (The Stills French tune, at the show they brought at a statue of “their French maiden” and had her crowd surf through the audience) and the entertaining stage banter between the two lead singers.

Another song that really stood out to me when played live, even though I had never heard it before, was a song off the new album (which I would soon discover as my favorite song of the album). The lead-lead singer (the one who sang every song on Logic…) put up his hood to get the sweaty hair out of his eyes and drearily mumbled, “This is one o are nusongs we’re veryprowdaf, Helecptrs.” The Stills jammed, and I jammed, and the beat Helicopters was stuck in my head until the day I bought Without Feathers.

The new Stills album, at first, disappointed me, mostly ‘cause I was still pissed at them for not playing Animals and Insects and playing too much new stuff that I didn’t know at their show. But Without… grew on me. Songs like In The Beginning are a little loud and almost too much for me but others like Oh Shoplifter (another that I liked even at the show before I knew it) has a nice amount of organ and even some cowbell to bring me into the new album sound. My favorites of this album are Oh Shoplifter, Helicopters, She’s Walking Out, and my all time favorite of the album thus far, Halo The Harpoon.

After all The Stills continue to prove their worthiness on my iTunes, as at least one of their songs is blared through my speakers/headphones everyday. Even the new album is really great, maybe not as good as their debut, but still. Another review of this album I read mentioned Bowie, and I would use The Thin White Duke as an even larger analogy. If Logic Will Break Your Heart was Scary Monsters, then Without Feathers is definitely Ziggy Stardust. I guess you could say The Stills albums genres almost seem to be going backwards, if Logic… was the 80s then without… is the 70s. But one thing is for sure, anyway you look at it, The Stills themselves are moving forward.

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