starhead
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starhead

Denton, Texas, United States | SELF

Denton, Texas, United States | SELF
Band Rock Singer/Songwriter

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Music

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"Sepiachord reviews "Escadrille""

Denton TX combo Starhead call what they do "ya'll-ternative", I have to give them credit for that. First because of the chutzpah of embracing both indie rock and country music and, secondly, for being able to pull this off.

Singer Ira Wile knows that at the core of both country and rock music is the foundation of good storytelling. And that's what "Escadrille" contains, a series of short stories set to reserved, precisely played music. The tone of these stories matches the late afternoon light striking small, dusty towns. The sort of light that highlights mistakes and makes things seem both hyper-real and painfully nostalgic.

This is a recording steeped in longing, melancholia and slowly sipped hard liquor. It's powerfull stuff that eases into you and worms its way into your head.

The music goes hand-in-hand with the storytelling style. The feeling here is laid back, almost laconic but that just makes it more seductive. It's as if the band knows they have all the time in the world to woo you, so why bother rushing? Wile's vocals go well with the approach, his voice is yearning but never strained... more than occasionally recalling the solo work of The Replacements' Chris Mars.

The country color of the music works well in evoking the somber mood the band is going for and lends an air of american mythology to the whole affair. It infuses these songs with that understated heroism of western films, that every (sad) man triumphant myth that we all want to seem a part of.

What sets Starhead separate from other bands mixing country and indie may just be the trumpet work of James Kerr. By turns he comments on the stories and lifts us above them, like the supernatural element lurking just out of reach in a ghost story. On the songs "Coda" and "Behind the Walls of You" this strange mix of loss and horns brings to mind the idea that this is what the soundtrack to "Blade Runner" would have sounded like if it had been composed by Ennio Morricone.

Quite nice overall. - sepiachord.com


"Starhead in The Dallas Observer"

By Jesse Hughey
Published on March 18, 2009


Escadrille, the debut album from Denton's Starhead, captures a riveting combination of Ira Wile's passionately delivered poetry over contemplative, hushed accompaniment. It opens with a recitation of Solomon and closes with "Our Revels Now Are Ended" from Shakespeare's The Tempest over quiet violin and guitar droning—none-too-subtle reminders that the lyrics are the priority here.

As for those lyrics: They occasionally get a bit dense as words spill out of overstuffed verses. More often, though, the subtle backing of violins, E-bowed guitar, trumpets and flugelhorn provide a hypnotic, narcotic contrast to Wile's vocals and minor-key acoustic strumming.

"War Damn Eagle," a soldier's regretful recollection of battle, is the only time the band reaches too far. The martial snare drum and "Taps" melody played on the trumpet drives the military theme into the ground, a rare lapse in the musical subtlety. But the powerful lyrics—alternately vengeful and ambivalent—overcome the slightly cheesy backing.

"Flood," the haunting story of musicians scrambling to protect their sheet music and play together one last time, and "Coda," a duet with Sarah Alexander about lovers voicing their mutual attraction through metaphors, stand out among the disc's best. But perhaps the top honor goes to a cover of Songs: Ohia's "Lioness," with Wile shouting out the final "Can't get here fast enough" with the weary conviction of a desperate man over distant trumpets and deep-reverb electric guitar.



http://www.dallasobserver.com/2009-03-19/music/starhead/ - Jesse Hughey for The Dallas Observer


"Starhead in The Dallas Observer"

By Jesse Hughey
Published on March 18, 2009


Escadrille, the debut album from Denton's Starhead, captures a riveting combination of Ira Wile's passionately delivered poetry over contemplative, hushed accompaniment. It opens with a recitation of Solomon and closes with "Our Revels Now Are Ended" from Shakespeare's The Tempest over quiet violin and guitar droning—none-too-subtle reminders that the lyrics are the priority here.

As for those lyrics: They occasionally get a bit dense as words spill out of overstuffed verses. More often, though, the subtle backing of violins, E-bowed guitar, trumpets and flugelhorn provide a hypnotic, narcotic contrast to Wile's vocals and minor-key acoustic strumming.

"War Damn Eagle," a soldier's regretful recollection of battle, is the only time the band reaches too far. The martial snare drum and "Taps" melody played on the trumpet drives the military theme into the ground, a rare lapse in the musical subtlety. But the powerful lyrics—alternately vengeful and ambivalent—overcome the slightly cheesy backing.

"Flood," the haunting story of musicians scrambling to protect their sheet music and play together one last time, and "Coda," a duet with Sarah Alexander about lovers voicing their mutual attraction through metaphors, stand out among the disc's best. But perhaps the top honor goes to a cover of Songs: Ohia's "Lioness," with Wile shouting out the final "Can't get here fast enough" with the weary conviction of a desperate man over distant trumpets and deep-reverb electric guitar.



http://www.dallasobserver.com/2009-03-19/music/starhead/ - Jesse Hughey for The Dallas Observer


Discography

Escadrille - Full length CD released Feb 22nd, 2009.

Track - "Ninth Grade Child" originally by '63 Eyes'. Used with permission.

Track - "Iconoclasm" featured on the "4 AM" podcast, hosted by Warren Ellis at http://warrenellis.com
(podcast episode title: Fireworks and Babyheads)

Track- Jason Molina's "Lioness", for the Lone Star Horizons - A Texas Tribute to Jason Molina
blog preview: http://apartofstuck.blogspot.com/2013/04/lone-star-horizons-texas-tribute-to.html

Photos

Bio

Formed in 2008, starhead was an ever-evolving collection of orphans from the late 90's grunge comedown formed around the songwriting of Ira Wile.
With numbers ranging from the "trinity" members to as many as 8, starhead was as comfortable playing a big stage as they were playing on a friend's back porch.

starhead recorded their first album, "Escadrille", at Transient Camp in Argyle, TX. Recorded and Produced by Brent Best (Slobberbone, The Drams), This debut album was released Feb 22nd, 2009 - one year to the date from the day the first song was written.
The music has been compared to bands ranging from Austin's 'Knife In The Water' to 'Calexico' and described with clever labels like "ya'll-ternative" and "tex-brecht", but is best summed up with these simple words: something beautiful.