Thousand Watt Stare – Self-Titled

  • Cole Faulkner posted
  • Reviews

Thousand Watt Stare

Self Titled - Hardline Entertainment

While in the process of moving, I found myself driving between my new and old residence more than I had anticipated.  The drive only takes 15 minutes each way, but it tends to add up rather quickly, monotony setting in early on as once brief intersections and quickly passing streets begins dragging as if in a time warp.  Curiously enough, for the bulk of that time I found myself spinning a single self titled EP that served as my introduction to Los Angeles’s Thousand Watt Stare – one lasting six tracks and occupying my mind for those quarter hour sessions.  But unlike the nature of the route, the album has yet to reach tedium, instead impressing me with its fresh take on broadly appealing radio rock.

My review copy of Thousand Watt Stare points to a selection of “focus tracks” to gently “nudge” reviewers in the right direction.  But while that might help for lesser bands, this EP stands strong on its own merit, making the selection’s exclusivity unnecessary.  For instance, album opener “Downsider” makes for a three-minute, front-loaded ride, chalk full of infectious choruses, a steady no-frills beat, and enough heavy rockin to turn the heads of punks and rockers alike.  The album art might suggest another Theory Of A Dead Man or Creed clone, but what’s inside is pure energetic passion.

The element initially winning me over quite early rests in the hint of retro guitar distortion, and Pat Kim’s (Unwritten Law) bellowing bass.  Most rock bands place a disproportionate emphasis on the role of production, losing the raw essence of each instrument while mixers, producers, and a ton of technical wizards embark on the quest to find perfect tonal balance.  But with Thousand Watt Stare, it’s unlikely that they really handed over the reigns to those credited with technical tinkering; instead feeling as if opting to crank up the volume and let their instruments speak for themselves.  “Lights Out” speaks strongest of the approach, with Kim’s earth shaking bass filling every audible nook without overpowering Christian Martucci’s (formerly of Black President) raggedly tuned guitar.  Martucci’s strings speak with a particular retro flare, one that in my case brings to mind horror – or even psychobilly – strumming (although those less familiar will likely appreciate it for its unique tonal qualities).

While on the topic, the group also has a subtle darkness lurking amidst their hooks.  Tracks like “Rust” feature moments of overarching gloom, particularly in lines like “bring me the sickness of your love,” with others like “Shine” referencing a “black sun,” and “Bad Heart” drawing upon the imagery of a “dead man’s crown.”  Again, nothing overpowering, but a direction I found an easy connection with.

Taken as a whole, all six tracks make for a solid first impression.  They’re tight without suffering from overproduction, and loose without forfeiting their commanding character.  True, by the final track, “TV Casualty,” the group shows signs of fatigue – the track’s repetitive chorus suggesting that the group would do well to branch out musically when recording their eventual full length.  But as a quick survey as to what Thousand Watt Stare is all about, these six tracks make for a fine mission statement.