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Stealing Jane - The Signal EP Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8.75
Musicianship 8
Lyrics 7.5
Production 8.5
Creativity 8.5
Lasting Value 8.25
Reviewer Tilt 8
Final Verdict: 82%
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Stealing Jane - The Signal EP

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (09/15/09)
Stealing Jane - The Signal
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: July 4, 2009


Already revered by a horde of nationally respected bands, including but not limited to, As Tall as Lions and Rhode Island's Zox, the Long Island octet Stealing Jane, have amassed a sizable following up and down the Eastern seaboard for the better part of the last four years. Known for their energetic live sets, the collective plays a spiky, full-throttle version of power-pop, anchored by Bryce Larsen's soulful vocals. Originally formed in 2002 as a jazzy, acoustic lounge act, the group drew on Larsen's compassionate crooning and a three-part horn section, to frame their sound. Those two hallmarks are still center stage on the band's latest EP The Signal, but this time the sonic palate has been kicked up a notch.

A giant step forward from 2007's EP Say Something, The Signal is aided by top shelf production, and a wall of sound that is both imposing and impressive. From start to finish, the EP is a collection of seven, fiery modern rock gems that seem to be coasting head first towards Billboard status. The disc begins with the tortured lament, "Life Support," in which Larsen sings, "Doctor, close the door, I need to be alone with her. I'm on life support, but this is not the end." Framed by flaring guitar and a propulsive rhythm section, the song is an absolute knockout. Whether Larsen is singing of an actual hospital visit or a doomed relationship, the desperation and melancholic ache bursts from the speakers and firmly declares Stealing Jane as a band worthy of 15 minutes of fame.

The album's pinnacle is the bombastic should-be single, "Mess," a self-hating, admittance of a failed relationship. When Larsen sings, "Cause I just can't seem to keep from letting you down, and I don't pretend to know why you're still around," the weary ache is completely without pretense and makes for one of the year's best heart-on-the-sleeve rockers. Fueled by an incredibly illustrious chorus, "Mess," is the sound of a band that knows how to write a notable hook.

This contention is elucidated on the feverish "Calamity," in which Larsen's vocal command and the brass section's bleating melodies make for an arresting and powerful four minutes. Anchored by the verses, "She's never gonna help me, she's always going to be the backseat driver on the way to calamity," its another tour-de-force from a band that seems to have definitely hit their most confident stride.

The tortured and candid nature of "Mess" is revisited in the desperate "Parasite," a jazzy sendup, in which he sings, "How many bodies do I need to break before I learn to live alone? Please believe me when I say that I love you more than I love myself." Were it not for the last line, the song's pleading message would not come across as effectively. But listening to Larsen bare his soul it is entirely impossible to not be sucked in. His emotive pleas and full-throated vocal melodies are undeniably captivating.

And then, Stealing Jane Stumbles. The overdone "Poker Face," throws all sorts of frenetic guitars, inspired horns and dense rhythms into an already cluttered and overly loud disc; and the ho-hum, by-the-book rocker, "You Let It Die" treads no new ground and seems to borrow all the trappings of the previous four, without making any new artistic claims itself. While both their intentions are worth merit, the songs comes across as cacophonous and over-the-top. These two hiccups may be due in part to the fact that six consecutive hard-charging rockers is a bit top-heavy.

Larsen's sincere and emotive vocals lend themselves to supple, acoustic arrangements and the disc would have been far more engaging had they divided up the six consecutive rockers with a bare-bones ballad. Thankfully, said ballad finally makes its appearance at the end of the disc. "So Here's to Hoping," is a heartfelt, acoustic ballad, in which a father sings to a son about the offspring's unending quest for fame. Whether autobiographical or not, "So Here's to Hoping" is a moving achievement that cannot be understated. Simple, honest and utterly genuine, it is an unfeigned look at an artist striving for their dreams.

Despite the two fumbles towards the end, The Signal is splendid work by a band that seems to have the potency and passion to go far. An exuberant bouquet of impressive vocals, pop sensibilities, and jazzy textures, the EP is something the band should flaunt with pride. Of all their releases to date, this is the disc that will probably find them playing showcases for A and R reps.

Track Listing 1. Life Support
2. Mess
3. Parasite
4. Calamity
5. Poker Face
6. You Let it Die
7. So Here's to Hoping


Stealing Jane is Bryce Larsen (vocals, rhythm guitar)
Brett Newman (drums)
Brian Bunce (bass)
Matt Giordano (lead guitar, background vocals)
Jesse Sears (keys)
Pat Ianelli (saxophone)
Andrew Mericle (trumpet)
Dave Calzone (trombone)


Recommended If You Like Rx Bandits, Stars in December, Cavashawn


Find Them HereMyspace
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Displaying posts 1 - 7 of 7
01:37 PM on 09/15/09
#2
ZeoVGM
PINK WIG, THICK ASS.
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Stealing Jane is awesome.
09:14 PM on 09/15/09
#3
S9Dallasoz
Knows the words to 'Bye Bye Bye'
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Holy Stars in December in the RIYL, will check out.
05:10 AM on 09/16/09
#4
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Holy Stars in December in the RIYL, will check out.
The fact that a Californian like you knows about Stars in December, a band who was a seminal blip on the Long Island music scene for no more than two years, is shocking and astonishing. You rule like woah! Btw, I was thinking about putting Carbondale in the RIYL. Remember them? God what a good band!
08:54 AM on 09/16/09
#5
S9Dallasoz
Knows the words to 'Bye Bye Bye'
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The fact that a Californian like you knows about Stars in December, a band who was a seminal blip on the Long Island music scene for no more than two years, is shocking and astonishing. You rule like woah! Btw, I was thinking about putting Carbondale in the RIYL. Remember them? God what a good band!
Carbondale is one I need to check out, but Stars in December tracks like "Remember The Sound" & "get it Right" were crazy good for a band that small.
Props on Cavashawn as well.
09:58 AM on 09/16/09
#6
Gregory Robson
Under Rug Swept
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Carbondale is one I need to check out, but Stars in December tracks like "Remember The Sound" & "get it Right" were crazy good for a band that small.
Props on Cavashawn as well.
Totally agree. Stars in December will always be one of the most promising bands to ever come out of Long Island. 'Tis a shame they called it quits so soon. So it goes. Cheers.
10:42 PM on 09/24/09
#7
dumhed01
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These dudes kinda remind me of Envy On The Coast.
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