Stella Blackrose

Kiss The Dirt

Written by: TL on 01/05/2010 01:06:12

When you approach the Danish audience with a band name like Stella Blackrose and a dark haired front woman, you're going to have accusations coming at you from the more superficial music fans, of attempting to ride the coattails of big-hitting Kelly Clarkson wannabe Celina Ree, who's been peddling manufactured, sugar-coated bullshit to the chart-tv-watching generation for a while now - much to the annoyance of grown up music fans. It takes less than one listen to Stella Blackrose's début album "Kiss The Dirt" however, to discover that while they by no means avoid persecution from the cool-police (with whom I admittedly often stand personally, ultimately also on the topic of this band), the charges against them are in no ways as grievous as (or even similar to) those against Miss Ree.

Nevertheless, if you dear reader, could care less for coolness, then less than one listen is also what it's going to take, for you to likely find out that Stella Blackrose may or may not have something to offer that can please your ears regardless. I say so because these four guys and a girl aren't out to challenge your intellect, nor your expectations, rather they aim a straight shot at making you move your arms, your legs, your neck, your libido and your lips. They make music meant for crowd appreciation - but how? Well, basically, by taking the almost too clichéed brand of dirty Jack Daniels drenched rock'n'roll and cleaning it up to the point where it can be enjoyed by even the most casual rock fan. It's not anywhere near as pop as rock can get, but it's still so much lighter than any hardrock influences, that I'd be laughed out of town if I said it was really a similar kind of music.

Hence it's fair to say that Stella Blackrose are ones to sell an enjoyable compromise to their audience, and at this, even a sceptic like me must admit, they are so good that they are likely to soon be playing much much bigger stages than the stamp-sized one I recently saw them inhabit. For ten songs on a line, Stella rock, drop and roll with the application of slavic verse-chorus-verse-chorus-solo-chorus formula and mostly 4/4 rhythms, and in leaving innovation out of focus, most of them have turned into both potent and catchy little slabs of predictability. While far from complex, the soundscape is littered with enough details and capable transitions to avoid making you feel any simpler about yourself, if you have indeed ignored the all too straightforward approach taken here.

Let me cut the crap though. No Stella Blackrose live performance, nor this album, has made me a fan of the band, in fact, I would likely not have given them the time of day, had I not personally known lead singer Rebecca Armstrong. For someone like me, this is just much too conventional to ever seem more than "okay". However, now that I have given it the time of day regardless, I will admit that "Kiss The Dirt" is very good at what it does, packing potent playing, smooth singing, catchy choruses gallore and a super slick production to boot. The problem is that if I am to judge solely on the sound of this album, Stella sound like they're more interested in selling rock'n'roll clichés to the mainstream, than they are in coming up with something very original. And while the skill is impeccable, this means that anyone who likes a feel of authenticity to their music, is likely to feel a little bit dirty, should they listen to "Kiss The Dirt" and discover that they like it. In short: Solid musicianship but lacking artistry.

Download: Have To Leave You, Shine, Beautiful Thing Called Rock
For The Fans Of: Bullet Train Blast, Volbeat

Release Date 12.04.2010
Target Records

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