Shapes Stars Make
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Shapes Stars Make

Dallas, Texas, United States | INDIE

Dallas, Texas, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Rock


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Shapes Stars Make - Rock Midgets"

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, three-piece Shapes Stars Make may well be a bit of an unknown commodity on this side of the Atlantic, but their new album These Mountains Are Safe could well be about to change that. Recorded with producer John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, Baroness), These Mountains Are Safe is a damn-right gorgeous album that deserves to be heard by as wide an audience as possible. Although they may be tarred with the obvious post-rock brush given their penchant for gradually building, soft/loud dynamics, there's so much here to elevate Shapes Stars Make above the crowd, be it the delicately-crafted soft harmonies that crown opener 'Giant Bird' or the slow-burning restrained brilliance of '(We Are) The Hurting', a track which welcomes the arrival of the first proper vocals on the album.

From start to finish These Mountains Are Safe is one of the most arresting, beautiful records that you're likely to hear all year. If you're a fan of Sigur Rós, Mono and Radiohead's more linear moments, then Shapes Stars Make are going to make sure your 2010 starts off with a bang - Rock Midgets (UK)

"Shapes Stars Make - Direct Current"

Dallas trio Shapes Stars Make! follow up on the promise of their self-titled '08 EP with These Mountains Are Safe (January 19), an album of broadly cinematic Sigur-Ros-meets-Radiohead post rock and progressive, often ambient-textured, indie pop. While the band's dreamstate lyricism and vocal melodies add to the overall theme of neo-psychedelia, it is the interplay of chiming, droning guitar riffs and echoing, scattershot percussive runs that make SSM's if not overly distinctive then highly effective instrumental chops such a cathartic listen. This is music full of grand gestures and dramatic flourishes, richly produced (by John Congleton) and immaculately arranged but still grounded with grit and sweat.

Lead track, the instrumental "Le Dodici", is three all-too-brief minutes of nimble, glittering chord progressions riding atop a pounding Bonham-styled drum foundation, layers of synths and bass lines moving in for a flurried crescendo. As with the EP, Mountains possesses both subtle shadings and wall-of-sound grandiosity, creating and then dismantling intricate musical atmospheres of mood and intensity. Shapes Stars Make! are clearly a band with a overstuffed grab bag of big ideas, blessed with both technical ability and symbiotic interplay - Direct Current

"Shapes Stars Make - Indie Vision Music"

If you have ever experienced being in a warm living room with a fire crackling and snowflakes drifting aimlessly outside then let me tell you that this album is the soundtrack to that moment. Shapes Stars Make have crafted their sophomore album with a tapestry of sounds designed to take you out of your day-to-day worries and into a colorful world of music. These Mountains Are Safe is full of post-rock tendencies in its song structure like the use of crescendos and valleys to deliver various moods with a very limited use of vocals. They manage to pull this off as a three piece band no less.

The album kicks off with ‘Giant Bird’ and immediately you can tell there are some beautiful moments ahead. How many albums can you say start off with sleigh bells that aren’t Christmas related? Soon after things kick up with a series of progressing notes and before you know it your caught in a whirlwind of swirling guitars and crashing drums. About halfway through everything slows down and this is a formula you should get used to since it is used often. As the drums build back up there is a slight use of vocals, more as an instrument themselves than anything as they sing ‘oooohhhh’, and the song takes off again. ‘Le Dodici’ has a similar vibe to it with vocals rarely used sans lyrics and a combination of progressing notes played crisply on the guitar. Fortunately this song isn’t over six minutes long like the opening track and fades out at the right time.

‘(We Are) The Hurting’ is the strongest song on the album and is also the most vocally focused of the bunch. Michael Gooden has a very somber and soothing voice that perfectly matches the ethereal music coming from his guitar and the other members. At times he channels other impressive vocalists like Thom Yorke and Matt Bellamy in his emotive and passionate delivery. Of course, it helps that he has an impressive range, being able to hit the high notes naturally and with ease. It is actually a bit disappointing after hearing him sing on this song that he doesn’t do it more often. Only three of the tracks have lyrics and those are as equally dreamy as the music. ‘Fireflies and Lights’ has a fantastic use of imagery to go with the sounds as he sings “Open up your eyes, watch the sky, fireflies, and lights. Take them in, and lock them up inside tonight. Your Light shines bright.”In ‘The Calm’ he sings of the calm before a storm. That storm ends up being a mixture of heavy distortion, synths, and brooding drums.

The lush soundscapes crafted in These Mountains Are Safe are meant to stir emotions and engrave a nostalgic experience you will never want to forget. You are treated to cascading notes and swirling guitars you can’t help but get caught up into throughout the album. - Indie Vision Music

"Shapes Stars Make - Exclaim Magazine"

They may come across as devoted disciples of fellow Texans Explosions in the Sky, but the build-up and ensuing conflict between the crashing cymbals and end-of-the-neck guitar tinkering as "Giant Bird" closes cements Shapes Stars Make as worthy students of the post-rock quartet. To their credit, Shapes Stars Make only use the instrumental start-from-nothing-and-then-explode formula as a foundation, adding their own elements (like occasional singing) to the mix. When Michael Gooden opens his mouth for the first time on third track "(We Are) The Hurting," a mellow breeze overcomes the song. With a voice reminiscent of Jimmy Gnecco, the band let him drift the song through pleasant guitar meanderings. The trio hit their high point on "Be Gentle, Young One." The thunderous offering ends with one guitar screaming, with the other floating notes above the chaos below; it's cinematic and moving. This album is one of the best that 2010 has seen so far. (Dreamt) - Exclaim Magazine (Canada)

"Shapes Stars Make Are Out There - FWW"

Shapes Stars Make Are Out There
The North Texas trio explores the rougher side of ambient music.

In These Mountains Are Safe, the North Texas trio Shapes Stars Make manages to turn furious progressive rock into an electronic lullaby. The majority of the album’s eight songs are sprawling and wordless, and when guitarist and singer Michael Gooden does open his mouth, he paints images via color and description rather than by being full of conviction or solemnity.

Several months ago, Gooden, bassist Jon Cook, and drummer Zach Edwards signed with San Diego-based Dreamt Music and then went into the studio with The Paper Chase’s John Congleton (Mount Righteous, Modest Mouse, Explosions in the Sky), who had produced the trio’s eponymous 2008 debut EP. These Mountains Are Safe is what happens when a band is focused more on crafting deceivingly complex music than moving copies.
Zach Edwards, Michael Gooden, and Jon Cook have just released a new album produced by John Congleton.Gooden and Cook both grew up in the Denton area, and each learned several different instruments as part of school and church bands. The destruction of a drum kit left in a treehouse during a thunderstorm forced Gooden to concentrate on other interests such as French horn and guitar. On the first day that Cook, then 16, showed up at Gooden’s house to jam, Cook had never even played the pawn-shop bass and amp that he was hauling.

Through various incarnations (Random 11, Michael Gooden Band), the guys experimented with everything from emo to rap to orchestral music, finally deciding to become the instrumental-heavy Shapes Stars Make in 2008. They didn’t plan on making wordless music, but “it’s where the journey led us,” Gooden said. “Instrumental music can speak to you in ways that words can’t always do justice. A lot of people don’t like instrumental music … but it makes us more creative. When you start writing with lyrics, you get locked into a structure or pattern. You have to water things down.”

The band’s previous drummer –– the eighth in a string of noncommittal stickmen –– left after helping to record the EP. Gooden and Cook placed an ad on Craigslist to which Fort Worth multi-instrumentalist Edwards responded. Edwards, who plays with The Burning Hotels drummer Wyatt Adams in the side project Ice Eater, fit right into SSM’s adventurous, outside-the-box compositions.

With the addition of Edwards, Shapes Stars Make changed from a guitarist’s vehicle into an actual band of songwriters. The first time they played together just a few months ago, the guys wrote “Sunrise,” a song full of crafty time signatures and tempo changes that appears on These Mountains Are Safe. SSM has been flourishing ever since. “We have a natural unity,” Gooden said. While performing, “we can feel when the song jumps, changes, or comes down,” he said.

When composing in the band’s rehearsal room, Gooden intentionally sets up a wandering mysticism in the music. He draws charts complete with arrows and stars, a sort of musical notation indecipherable to anyone but him but that his bandmates try to follow.

Nearly half of the material on These Mountains Are Safe contains vocals of some kind, although in much of that half, Gooden doesn’t convey lyrics as much as he uses his voice as another ambient instrument –– there are also looped guitar parts, wallowing bass lines, and synthesizers. When he does sing recognizable words, Gooden eschews the confessional or pedantic. “I use imagery people can relate to their own story instead of telling my story in black and white,” he said. “I want people to experience the music in a way that means something to them.”

In a live setting, Shapes Stars Make puts on a loud yet subdued show. Bassist Cook uses his feet to play synth parts, Gooden flies up and down the fretboard, and the long-armed Edwards plays with “lots of sweat and angry tears.” Despite the wall of noise and the constant activity, the result is somehow serene.

When Dreamt Records called, Gooden was a tad skeptical of the offer –– the label’s bosses had never seen the band except via a few YouTube videos. But the label is making good on its promises to fund the recording, print the album, and help fund a West Coast tour this summer. - Fort Worth Weekly

"Shapes Stars Make Tinkers with Sound - DMN/Quick"

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
by Hunter Hauk

Dallas' Shapes Stars Make is technically a traditional band. Guitar, bass, synth, drums – a basic lineup.

But the trio, whose new eight-song release These Mountains Are Safe was produced by John Congleton (Paper Chase, Explosions in the Sky), doesn't make traditional pop songs. Much of the new CD is the kind of slow-build shoegaze pop you'd listen to while working or driving. But there are moments when the unexpected crooning of singer/guitarist Michael Gooden commands your full attention. The key is the unpredictability – you can't always guess how a song will shift.

When asked what kind of sound his band is going for, Gooden told us in an e-mail, "Sometimes things are more subtle, like a time signature change. Other (more obvious) times, our dynamics will change very quickly. A big thing for us is to create themes in the music that more or less take the listener on a journey."

With Congleton's help, they've certainly accomplished their goals on These Mountains Are Safe. Listen to some samples at shapesstarsmake. Curious what they'll do with the material live? Go to their CD-release show on Friday at the Double Wide. - Dallas Morning News / Quick

"Shapes Stars Make - Absolute Punk"

Shapes Stars Make creates airy melodic-pop tunes that are easy on the ears permeating a daydreamy ambience. Their six track self-titled debut release produced by John Congleton (Appleseed Cast, Explosion in the Sky) lassos tiny pulsating waves and builds them into monstrous sonic tides that ravish the listener aurally with bashing synth-textured symphonies. Band mates Michael Gooden (lead vocals, guitars) and Jon Cook (bass, synthesizer) are skillful at producing softly plush harmonies reminiscent of The Electric Soft Parade and intensifying the dynamics and volume of the chord progressions. It is music that has a cinematic scope ideal for storylines that are bigger than one’s life similarly to the music of Hundred Year Storm, but there are moments when the music reaches out to people on an individual level through its frailness. It is an album for people who want space to dream freely.

The opening track “Let It Be Morning” is a bit melancholy as the gently breezy melodics form teardrop shapes over Gooden’s soft vocal timbres. “The Lion and the Bear” enlivens the album with giant sonic flourishes that act as trumpets heralding in a saga. The completely instrumental track is not alone as “This is Epic” is also an instrumental, but with delicately patterned sonic synthetics. The ambient pop esplanades of “Help for Hopeless” takes the listener along escapist shafts with tenderly flickering chimes swirling around and around, while the tingling melodic channels of “A Great Awakening/Terrible Visitation” have a succor effect as the coasting rhythms act as a warm jacuzzi bath. The final track “After All” also bathes the listener in warm and wispy melodics with a resemblance to The New Amsterdams as Gooden’s vocals mesh into the melodic fibers.

Shapes Stars Make sound exactly the way you would expect a band with this name to sound like. The music is airy with gentle flickers that light up small and large. The music consumes the listener like the lights in the night sky and lets you dream out loud. - Absolute Punk by Susan Frances

"Shapes Stars Make - For The Sound"

Within the past year or so, Manchester Orchestra went from being the newcomers that were kept pretty hush-hush to the band that almost everyone interested in the indie music scene has a definite, strong opinion on. Whether you’re latched on, counting down the days until new material hits your ears, or dreading the day that happens and spending the time leading up to it bashing everyone who feels differently – if you’ve been keeping up with the ever-growing scene, you know who they are. Now, you might be wondering why I’m bringing Manchester Orchestra up, and there’s actually a very simple, logical explanation for that – because I would not be even slightly surprised if Shapes Stars Make become this year’s Manchester Orchestra. Their self-titled album is surprisingly good, and once the masses catch wind of it, just wait. Theirs is a name you’ll be hearing quite a bit in the future.

Where Shapes Stars Make really thrives is in the balance they create on the album. Switching off between strong vocal tracks similar to a mix of Lovedrug and The Appleseed Cast (“Let It Be Morning” and “A Great Awakening/Terrible Visitation”) and lush instrumentals that fall into the territory charted by bands like This Will Destroy You and Explosions In The Sky (“The Lion And The Bear” and “This Is Epic”), Shapes Stars Make drift almost seamlessly between the two styles, making the album flow together undeniably well.

“Let It Be Morning” is easily my favorite track, starting things off with vulnerable, echoing vocals before developing into something much larger with more emphasis on the crisp drums and pulsing guitars, where “A Great Awakening/Terrible Visitation” picks up an altogether more suspicious tone, packed with buzzes and swirls leading up to a strong chorus. That’s not to say that the instrumental tracks pale in comparison, though – “The Lion And The Bear” was the first song I heard by Shapes Stars Make when checking out their Myspace, and it was responsible for driving me to review the album. “This Is Epic” might seem like a sarcastic title, but there’s something about the lightness and subtlety of the quiet guitar and bells that actually holds true to the name.

It’s always refreshing to stumble onto an unsigned band that really has the talent to become really successful in their genre, and that’s exactly the feeling I get from Shapes Stars Make. If you’re a fan of any of the previously mentioned bands, or even if you just simply want to be in on the next thing your friends will be obsessing over before it happens, Shapes Stars Make comes very highly recommended. - by Cassie Gressell

"Shapes Stars Make - Neo-Surrealist Movement"

Hailing from Dallas, Texas, Shapes Stars Make crafts emotionally-rich indie rock heavy in post-rock influence. As a result of this now somewhat commonplace blend, Shapes Stars Make draws its fair share of comparisons to The Appleseed Cast; indeed, some similarities are evident as the two groups share John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky, 2006's Peregrine) as producer. Evident on the band's debut EP, however, is a sound unique in its atypical condensation of genre techniques. Where as most indie bands experimenting with post-rock textures tend to develop around mellow, restrained build-ups and finishes, Shapes Stars Make represents six tracks equally gentle and melodic as they are massive in volume. In specific, opener "Let It Be Morning" concludes in a distortion-filled cacophony of layered guitars, synth, and drums reminiscent of the epic climaxes of Mono and early Mogwai. In the abbreviated span of thirty minutes, Shapes Stars Make have announced themselves to indie and post-rock purists alike as a group to watch for in the near future. - The Neo-Surrealist Movement

"Starry-Eyed Surprise"


"Jon and I formed the band in late 2007 after stints in other bands for several years," says vocalist and guitarist Michael Gooden. He and Cook grew up in Denton and met in 1996, with the rest of the band following suit. "Michael met Steven in college in Waco, and Steven joined the band in early 2008," adds Jon Cook, who plays bass and synthesizer for the group.

Cook explains that the band differentiates themselves from other atmospheric, mostly instrumental, post-rock groups by stating that they don't strive to be like them. "Our main goal has always been to play what we like and what we think sounds good," says Gooden. "We just try to create melodies that fit together but are not predictable."

While not every young group has a grasp on how to actually work together to craft quality music, Shapes Stars Make has adopted a markedly democratic songwriting process. "I would say that it [songwriting] is collaborative," says Cook. "Michael will usually introduce a melody or a theme, and then we will all run with that."

Gooden elaborates, "I'll record the guitar parts live, and Jon works out ideas for the bass and synth. The lyrics - if I feel they are appropriate - usually come last." The conversation then moves onto to whom and what have influenced the band's songwriting process. "I would say one of my biggest musical influences is a band from Japan called Mono," says Gooden. "Their dynamics and sounds are powerful. Vocally and lyrically, I think that Ben Gibbard and Thom Yorke are up there on the list of influences."

"While we were writing music for this album, I was listening to the bands American Football and This Will Destroy You quite a bit," Cook adds. Drummer Steven Samuels speaks up with his own addition. "Stylistically, Aaron Gillespie of Underoath and Dave Grohl of Nirvana/Foo Fighters have been huge influences on me."

With a well-rounded listening repertoire, the band will definitely bring about some much needed reprise from summer tunes.

- Envy Magazine by Adam P. Newton


Shapes Stars Make - S/T (May 2008)
These Mountains are Safe (Jan. 2010)



Shapes Stars Make is an all-embracing indie band pulling ambience, post-rock guitar hooks, and romantic vocals from a galaxy of influences; but it's the shimmery texture of their sometimes experimental music that sets them apart. In fact, if Aurora Borealis had a soundtrack, Shapes Stars Make would be it. Songs grow and diminish as if they are alive, evoking a living breathing being made of music and light. This emotionally rich indie rock is heavy with post-rock influence and has been beautifully categorized as an 'atypical condensation of genre techniques' (The Neo-Surrealist Movement). Absolute Punk has referred to Shapes Stars Make as 'airy with gentle flickers that light up small and large.' Michael Gooden, Jon Cook, and Zach Edwards give their music room to expand and contract organically which, with the help of producer John Congleton (Appleseed Cast, Explosions In The Sky), leads to the sweeping layered melodies that define Shapes Stars Make.

Shapes Stars Make released their debut full length with Dreamt Music/Facedown Records in January 2010, entitled "These Mountains are Safe."

"Dallas trio Shapes Stars Make follow up on the promise of their self-titled '08 EP with These Mountains Are Safe, an album of broadly cinematic Sigur-Ros-meets-Radiohead post rock and progressive, often ambient-textured, indie pop. This is music full of grand gestures and dramatic flourishes, richly produced (by John Congleton) and immaculately arranged but still grounded with grit and sweat. Shapes Stars Make are clearly a band with a overstuffed grab bag of big ideas, blessed with both technical ability and symbiotic interplay" (Direct Current)