Stars Look Down
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Stars Look Down

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


"I Like Feelin' Low"

Trent Gay is the type of guy people talk about even if they don’t really know him. His last band also had guys named Erik Whitten and Kyle Bassett doing some stuff, but most people say, "Trent Gay — you know, Trailor?" They’ve become one and the same, Trent and Trailor, even now that he’s got a new band, Stars Look Down. Mostly you hear, "Stars Look Down — you know, Trailor?" I find myself doing it.

It’s too bad. Trailor wasn’t this good.

Gay has come into his own as frontman and songwriter, and on Stars Look Down’s self-titled debut, put out by brand-new Portland label Blackfly Records (see "Sibilance"), his bandmates bassist Dan Bodoff (Shufflin’ Tremble) and drummer Brian Nickerson aren’t too bad either. Despite Gay’s laudable vocals, Trailor’s songs always seemed to lack a bit of soul, but Stars Look Down sounds like a band that’s found religion. There is pathos here, from a frontman willing to lay his soul out for public viewing, and it’s self-inspection that stops short of being self-involved.

Put simply, Gay ain’t a happy guy, if his lyrics are to be believed. But that makes sense. If you’re catching the Rush reference, maybe you remember that "Stars Look Down" isn’t much of a happy song: "Like the rat in a maze who says/ "Watch me choose my own direction"/ Are you under the illusion/ The path is winding your way?"

Gay doesn’t go quite so far as to suggest we don’t possess free will, but he certainly wonders whether he’s made much of his opportunities to employ it. "I am useless you know/ If they want to see blood, I will give them a show," he sings on the album’s closer, "On a Limb." It’s a fitting finish for a group of tunes that revel in melancholy like the best of grunge but don’t tread as obviously in that genre, as Trailor did.

The album’s opener, and purported single, is "Pulse," on which Gay goes so far as to say, "I wish I were someone else . . . I am just a nervous wreck/ You know what I mean/ I don’t know what I expect/ I live in a dream." The verses drive forward, the vocals aching to catch up with the pacing and lending a nice urgency with a distinctive warbly tenor. When Gay sings that he’d like to "go make drunken angels in the snow-oh-oh" you’re intoxicated by his malaise.

That voice. I’ve decided it’s a mix of Adam Duritz, Peter Garrett (Midnight Oil), and Michael Stipe. Or maybe Gay just looks like those last two so much that I’m imagining their voices over his. Pretty sure he sounds like them, though.

"Life in the Minors" would be my pick for a first release, showcasing as it does Gay’s range and the band’s versatility. There’s some counting crows here, although it’s a much heavier vibe. The finish of the chorus, "Yesterday is never over/ Nothing really matters much to me," is catchy as hell, Gay bending into a tremendous vocal arch on "never." Behind him, Bodoff and Nickerson effortlessly ramp up and ramp down within the verse before exploding into the chorus.

Here they mimic a common 6gig song structure (well, it’s common to a lot of contemporary heavy bands), especially in "You’ve Done Enough," where the backing guitar and chorus combine to echo songs off Mind Over Mind pretty closely. Even the nice reverb echo effect on the bridge was a little bit too predictable. But there are worse bands to sound like than 6gig, and Stars Look Down largely carve out their own sound for most of the album, straddling heavier radio rock and adult alternative sounds in interesting fashion.

The songs are catchy, the emotion’s genuine and palpable, and there are enough inventive nuggets to keep music nerds interested. For a band who’ve played few live shows so far, this is an introduction to the local scene that people will find hard to ignore.

Not that Trent Gay needs an introduction. You know, Stars Look Down?

- The Portland Pheonix


"Warm up Time? Who needs it?"

I absolutely love front man Trent Gay's voice and dig just about every song this four-piece band put on their record. Song 8, "Nothing Like You," is my current favorite: "It doesn't make any sense, you couldn't do any more, and I come to your defense." Singer/guitarist Gay along with bassist Dan Bodoff, drummer Brian Nickerson and guitarist Zach Romanoff make up this band with the catchy name and infectious, melodic sound. Don't ask me who they sound like, I've been sleep-deprived from the Red Sox drama and can't wrap my brain around comparisons at the moment. What I can tell you is that each time I listen to this CD, and I'm on about listen No. 7 at the moment, I like it all the more. They're tight, savvy musicians and I'm telling you, Trent's voice will knock your socks off as he opens up and lets it pour out of him. They're a rock act for sure and are lyrically and symmetrically driven with a song structure and cohesion that transcends their short time together. - The Portland Press Herald


"A Dark Masterpiece"

Goodtimes Magazine calls Stars Look Down's debut CD a "dark masterpiece." - Goodtimes


"CD Review"

Employing the sort of soaring and majestic guitar riffs that The Edge has trademarked, Stars Look Down are that type of big stadium act that no one has heard of yet. Vocalist Trent Gay's voice is dynamic and always right on key while Brian Nickerson keeps time with his light percussion that is much more refined and talented than one might think since he keeps the spotlight off himself. Production wise this is a right on album with a superb recording and production job by Jonathan Wyman.
- Smother.net


"Goodtimes CD review"

"This CD is a collection of very well-written catchy rock songs, a number of which could be expected to gain radio airplay. The album's first track, "Pulse," has been spun on the alternative rock station WCYY's spinout. Frontman vocalist and guitarist Trent Gay drives this album with a confident unique singing voice matched with a hard-driven rhythm guitar. Bassist Dan Bodoff and drummer Brian Nickerson hold a steady tight groove throughout each song, pushing this album to climatic levels in songs such as "Pulse" and "Life in the Minors." The album is lyrically driven.....The verses drive each note and support Gay's vocal range along with the band's versatility. When Gay sings "let's go make drunken angels in the snow," the use of imagery in his lyrics shoot out at you. Each song makes this album a strong wall of infectious energy, intensity and emotion. This band has a meassage, and they are not afraid of laying themselves out there for their audience. The selection of songs give an intimate look at an individual dealing with love, life, and regret. It's astonishing that this three-piece formed just last July. If you're looking for a great local band, pick up Stars Look Down at local Bull Moose Music and Newbury Comics stores. - Goodtimes


Discography

Stars Look Down, Full LP CD on BlackFly Records
Released locally on October 19th, 2004. National Release Date January 21st, 2005.

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

"Sometimes a song just happens", laughs Trent Gay, front man for new Portland rock-act Stars Look Down, "Sometimes I bring in an idea, and it all falls into place". Don't be fooled by Gay's off-hand remarks, Stars Look Down places a serious emphasis on songcraft. Gay has been described as 'Dave Matthews for a hard rock arena', while the rhythm section, made up of classically-trained bass-Man Dan Bodoff and rock veteran Brian Nickerson on power-drums is "a beautiful malaise". Nor is the act easy to pin down, having a musical style that defies description.

Stars Look Down has just completed their first
full-length self entitled album and found the process somewhat of a road to discovery.  "We realized that the music we wrote couldn't be fully realized without the extra layer that a second guitar adds", states Bodoff, "So we needed another member". 

Enter Zach Romanoff, no stranger to the Portland music scene, as former front man of Figurehead and Matraya and certainly no stranger to the national scene having formerly been signed with Capital Music Group . "Zach knew exactly what we were looking for from the moment he heard the songs", and, according to Bodoff, "His voice
is a great complement to Trent's". Romanoff was drawn to the band because of their incredible
songcraft and musicianship that "these guys have shown on and off the stage. This band is unstoppable".

What does Stars Look Down plan for the future? "We want to rock." states Gay, "We want to tour places we've never been, and play with awesome bands we've never seen". SLD's debut album was produced by Jon Wyman
at Big Sound Studio, and features guest vocals from Even All Out's Billy Libby. The first single,
'Pulse', is already seeing spins on commercial stations WCYY, WTOS, and WKIT.