|May 6 2004||The Washington Post||Live!
The Push Stars, Jammin' Java, Vienna|
By Marianne Meyer
According to the Push Stars' official bio, the Boston-based trio's first concert was at the Middle East Bakery in Cambridge, Mass. Fewer than 10 people attended, and the band earned about $50, a falafel and a few Pabst Blue Ribbon beers.
Tomorrow night's show at Jammin' Java is sure to offer a bigger crowd and a wider selection of refreshments. In the course of the last eight years, the Stars have recorded four studio albums for three different labels, toured thousands of miles and steadily accumulated the respect of their peers and a strong, if not yet million-selling, fan base.
Calling from a tour stop at "a little town right next to South Bend [Ind.]," the band's lead singer and songwriter, Chris Trapper, described the Push Stars' somewhat circuitous push to stardom. "We've done it on a person-to-person basis, 'cause we haven't gotten any massive breaks."
After an independent debut CD in 1996, "Meet Me at the Fair," the Stars signed with Capitol Records and released "After the Party" three years later. Despite some great reviews (the New York Times used the phrase "classic pop perfection"), the Stars fell from the label's graces when the man who signed them (the same guy who worked with Nirvana and Counting Crows in the past) abruptly left the company.
self-released album, "Opening Time," emerged in 2001, and the
band continued a relentless tour schedule buoyed by loyal fans, including
the film-directing Farrelly Brothers, whose "There's Something About
Mary" featured the tune "Everything Shines," and Celtic
rockers Great Big Sea, who made the same song a hit in Canada. Great Big
Sea also invited the Stars to tour with them and Trapper to write songs
for the group's 2002 album, "Sea of No Cares."
The trio -- Trapper (vocals and guitar), Dan McLoughlin (vocals, bass and piano) and Ryan MacMillan (vocals and drums) -- will be a quintet on this headlining tour with the addition of a keyboard and guitar player.
Trapper is fond of the vibe at Jammin' Java ("It's a great room") and said he looks forward to playing a Friday night gig. "Usually we play on Monday or Tuesday nights when people can't throw down and party. It'll be nice to kinda loosen up and let it go." He also likes that the seated listening room "gives you a chance to do your mellower, acoustic stuff. It's a good mix of both."
|May 4 2004||Massachusetts Daily Collegian||The
Push Stars Release New Album, Prepare to Take Over NoHo
The trio -- Chris Trapper on vocals and guitar, Dan McLoughlin on bass and piano, and Ryan MacMillan on drums -- have been together for the better part of a decade, produced four progressively better CD's and have had their songs featured on television shows and in movies like "Malcolm in the Middle" and "There's Something About Mary." And they got their name from the telephone."We were offered a gig with the Boston band Morphine," Trapper said in an interview. "It was our first big opening spot and we didn't have an established name. At the same time we got the call for that gig, I'd been paying a gas bill over the phone and one of the options was 'if you want to tell us how broke you are, push star.'"
The name stuck, Trapper said, because they liked the old-time feel of it. It's that old-time feel that moves a lot of their music, and the first single off their new album -- "Outside a Dream" -- was created around a sound found in simple, 1950's standard rock and roll.
"It was based around a '50s chord progression," Trapper said, pausing to sing the notes. "That's how it started."
Lyrically, "Outside" is a nostalgic look at Trapper's formative years in Buffalo, N.Y. It is about a man -- presumably Trapper -- approaching his 30th birthday and reminiscing about his not-so-distant past. Lines like, "No second chance was the last thing that you told me / and I was the fool who agreed," are what attack the listener at the heart. Ultimately, Trapper's search for his ex finds her married, "with a sweet, little child on the way," and he must learn to put her memory away.
the first track on the album, takes a look at life on the road and is
Trapper's answer to a girlfriend that questions his dedication to her.
He makes no vow of faithfulness to Claire, but promises in the refrain
that he's "just a shadow 'neath the street lights, who would die
The Push Stars make the kind of music you listen to as you take a long drive through your hometown and think about how far you've come. The lyrics are not especially deep or philosophical, but it is the emotion behind Trapper's words and the strength of the music that makes this album absolutely perfect.
"Paint the Town" is an album about love and life, topics that some would say are overdone and cliche. But, the Push Stars are "romantic guys, compared to most of the guys we know," according to Trapper. Every song on the album reflects that romanticism, but with humor, simplicity and bare-your-soul honesty.
"Most of the songs on this album are meant to get as truthful as we possibly can about different realities of love and romance and relationships," Trapper said.
They have based their career around touring, and they're on the road for a good portion of each year. Their sound and their image is not packaged or dependent on radio. They have gained fans by touring with bands -- like Matchbox Twenty -- that they have befriendedin their years together. Their fan base has grown exponentially because of this, but they remain true to an independent artist kind of life. There are no fancy tour buses, no bodyguards, no huge stage production.
"Those guys were really, really nice guys," Trapper said of their stint with Matchbox Twenty. "They'd let us do autograph signings after our set each night. So, we'd have a row of fans from section A to M, and that was really effective for getting like-minded fans."
Besides Matchbox Twenty, the band recently wrapped up a tour with Canadian Celtic rock band, Great Big Sea. They have also done dates with Train and Third Eye Blind, but they find themselves in the middle of a headlining club-tour now, promoting their new album.
"We're dedicated to getting this record heard because we're all really proud of it," Trapper said. "We found backing for ourselves, had no label, no anything. And that little record took us on tour into hockey arenas with Matchbox Twenty because Rob Thomas just loved it."
They have reason to be proud. This album, dubbed "the little record that could" by Trapper, deserves to be heard.
Push Stars play the Iron Horse, Tuesday, May 4, at 8:30 p.m.
|April 28 2004||South Bend Tribune||Push
Stars to 'Paint the Town' in Plymouth|
By Andrew S. Hughes
might not know the Push Stars by name, but you've probably heard at least
one of the band's songs.
"We were on tour with a couple of bands, and we'd play songs that are on soundtracks," guitarist Chris Trapper says of being a known unknown. "People would have their backs to us, and we'd play 'Everything Shines,' which was on 'There's Something About Mary,' and you could see people turn around and say, 'I know this song.' "
For several years now, too, people in Plymouth have been saying, "I know this band," in reference to the Push Stars.
with the owner of the Dandelion, Brenda Fortin, the Push Stars played
there when it was Wright's Landing early in the band's career and will
Dan McLoughlin and Ryan MacMillan formed the Push Stars in 1996 and
With the release in March of the band's fourth album, "Paint the Town," even more people should be embracing the Push Stars' sound this year. The band's previous albums are "Meet Me at the Fair," "After the Party" and "Opening Time."
On "Paint the Town," mandolins, keyboards and the guest lead guitar playing of Matt Beck -- Matchbox Twenty's road guitarist -- and Dave Levida complement the Push Stars' guitar-bass-drums lineup. For this tour, the band has added a keyboard player and a second guitarist to its lineup.
"The stage at the Dandelion is going to be packed, with five guys," Trapper says. "All of our records have had some production to them, so we've always had to rethink things so that a keyboard solo becomes a bass guitar solo. This tour, we're playing the record not note for note but sound for sound, and we've been playing some stuff from our other records and really fleshing them out."
On "Paint the Town," reverie and irony duet on "songs we sing (that) will soothe our suffering" but where "the smallest hope is never gone."
"It's lyrically-driven roots-pop," Trapper says of the Push Stars' sound. "I started playing out at coffeehouses and open-mike nights with an acoustic guitar. I think the band goes wherever the lyric guides them. It's based as much around a groove as around a story."
The characters in Trapper's songs "work a job I can't stand" and "crank the tunes up in my car" to find release, cruise past old haunts in a nostalgic haze, and encourage their friends to throw a party with "a keg on my coffin" in place of a traditional funeral.
Replacements are) what made me want to start a band because all of the
songs were about band life," he says. "It made it sound like
a passionate thing. I think we all love the Beatles. You can never touch
that, but if you strive for it, you'll be in good shape."
|March 25 2004||Wisconsin State Journal||The
best double bill during the next week is Canada's Great Big Sea and the
Push Stars at Luther's Blues, 1401 University Ave., at 8 p.m. Monday.|
Great Big Sea, a rock-folk band, mixes pop with roots rock and stellar musicianship. Known for lively stage shows, Great Big Sea updates traditional Scottish tunes, too. The band's "Something Beautiful" likely will stand as one of 2004's best releases.
The Push Stars also delivered one of the year's best efforts so far with "Paint the Town." The three-man band has been around for several years, but has been caught up in record company tangles and never received the attention it deserves.
Scheduled to start at 8 p.m., the show has tickets for $14 in advance and $16 on the day of the show.
|March 21 2004||Philadelphia Inquirer||Push
Paint the Town
(33rd Street Records **)
They're tougher on the outside, with a less-produced sound that favors midtempo guitar rock over piano-driven ballads. But they're just as tender inside, with love song after love song that sound as if they were written in empty apartments and barrooms at closing time.
not convinced it's for you? Well, singer-guitarist Chris Trapper sounds
a lot like Counting Crows' Adam Duritz. The Push Stars' made-for-Gilmore
Girls songs - such as the acoustic "In the Galaxy," which is
so edgy, it sounds a little like a Shins tune - are definitely your cuppa
lukewarm, not too strong decaf.
|March 19-25 2004||bostonphoenix.com||Pop
BY JONATHAN PERRY
STILL THE SAME? After flirting with all the trappings of major-label stardom, the Push Stars are back on their own, and glad of it.
There are several ways in which a band measure whether they've arrived - or at least have become part of pop culture. A smash single - one that's tapped, say, for a Cameron Diaz/Ben Stiller comedy - is one way. Signing with a major label and selling out shows packed with fans who sing along to every word is another. A chat session with the ubiquitous host of a ubiquitous late-night talk show is also a good gauge. Although they haven't always had an easy time of it during the five years since they dropped their major-label debut, After the Party (Capitol, 1999), Boston's Push Stars have fulfilled each of these criteria. Singer-songwriter Chris Trapper has even been able to buy his parents a house.
Trapper was hit with more evidence last month while he was in transit somewhere between New York City and Boston. It was about five o'clock in the morning. "I was driving home and I stopped at a rest stop because I had to pee," he explains over drinks with band mates Dan McLoughlin (bass/piano) and Ryan MacMillan (drums). "I heard 'Any Little Town' in the restroom, on the speakers. It was a very weird experience. For a moment, I thought, 'Who's this, it sounds kind of neat?' Then I realized it was us. And it sounded good."
The Push Stars' musical outlook hasn't changed much since the days when the trio's quixotic brand of pop broke, however briefly, into the mainstream in the form of a breezy single ("Everything Shines") that garnered widescreen exposure in the Farrelly Brothers' There's Something About Mary. The Stars' just-released fourth album, Paint the Town (out last week on the San Francisco-based 33rd Street Records), offers a familiar mix of nostalgia-dosed requiems for old lovers, older towns, and pledge-pin romance, all wrapped in a package of cascading choruses and soaring melodies. It's the sentimental stuff of prom dates and wedding receptions, with the occasional Sunday hangover thrown in to keep it all from getting too WB Network-cute. The piano-accented ballad "Every Angel" and the uplifting "Outside of a Dream," with its slow-dance sway, are par-for-the-course Push Stars pop. But the restless dissatisfaction and the shaken perspective that drive "Hanging by a Thread" reflect a darker experience.
Despite Trapper's claim in "Hanging" that "I'm still the same," the band members do allow that after negotiating out of their multi-album deal with Capitol - which they did after the label failed to find a single on the subsequently self-released Opening Time (Co-Op Pop, 2001) - they're more circumspect about the music business. But the good songs are still there, they say, as is their audience, and they claim to be as enthusiastic about recording and performing as ever. "I think we reacted to the split with Capitol with more output," Trapper says. "We said, 'Let's do a record right now.' That's basically why we've kept going - because it's never been about business. If we played tonight and two people showed up, we'd still make records." McLoughlin says recording provides a respite, "an escape from business. Once we're in the studio, we're creating again, and it's a great feeling - especially now, since there's no A&R people saying a song should be three minutes because we need a hit. It's just us making the record the way we want to make it."
During the post-Capitol years, Trapper has released a solo album and written songs with Newfoundland arena-rockers Great Big Sea for which he earned a Canadian gold record. Since they moved to Los Angeles two years ago, McLoughlin and MacMillan have also stayed busy, with McLoughlin writing film scores and MacMillan working as a session drummer, including a stint manning the skins for a Dixie Chicks single. And last year, the Push Stars were invited to open a leg of Matchbox Twenty's fall tour after singer Rob Thomas heard Paint the Town. It was an experience the three won't soon forget. "Playing the Matchbox tour was unbelievable," Trapper recalls. "We were playing hockey rinks in front of 12,000 people, and we saw that we could pull it off. So that feeds the fire a little bit."
Right now, they're concentrating on their 25-city tour supporting Great Big Sea. But MacMillan says they won't be as easily seduced again. "I think this time around, we'll be a lot more choosy with a label and not get so excited, like 'Wow, a major label's interested!' It would have to be a team of people who get us, get what we want to do, and who would be easy to work with." He breaks into a grin. "And it would have to be a lot of money."
|The Patriot Ledger||
Push Stars are Therapeutic, Happy-to-Be-Alive Pop Rockers
By Jay Miller
The Push Stars create some of the most vivacious guitar pop on the current scene, so it's perplexing to hear Chris Trapper describe his songwriting process.
"It's either go to a therapist or write a song," Trapper said with a rueful laugh. "I've always written songs. I always write very instinctively, and reactively, usually about something that's happened to me, or someone I know."
Luckily for us, Trapper's therapeutic output results in the kind of infectiously melodic pop that is far too rare these days. His lyrics range from the pensively melancholy to the goofily ecstatic, but the tone and sound of the Push Stars music is relentlessly vibrant, reveling in sheer joy.
Which of course, leads it to be dismissed as frothy, retro and lightweight in some quarters. But let's leave the angst, real and imagined, aside for a bit and embrace the novelty of a band that writes and plays honest-to-goodness memorable hooks.
Push Stars are opening the current tour for their pals from Newfoundland,
The Push Stars have had an eventful career since their debut at The Middle East in 1996. A year later the trio was hailed as "Best Unsigned Band in America," and their 1997 self-produced debut CD "Meet Me at The Fair" led to a contract with Capitol Records.
1999 album "After the Party" gave the band a national audience,
Better than that, the Push Stars won some important fans, in the Farrelly Brothers of moviemaking fame. Their song "Everything Shines" became a big part of the soundtrack to "There's Something About Mary." Later, the band would also contribute to the soundtrack for "Me, Myself and Irene" and their music popped up on TV shows like "ER" and "Malcolm in the Middle."
But while their national profile was expanding, the band's champions at Capitol were being purged in a corporate shakeup, so they bought their way out of the contract. "Opening Time," (2001) was released on their own label, and while tunes like the single "Waiting Watching Wishing" and the zany "Millionaire" proved they hadn't lost any flair, the CD didn't set the charts afire.
This month, the Push Stars released their fourth album, "Paint the Town," on 33rd Street Records. Songs like the shimmering "Outside of a Dream," the provocative "Every Angel," and the poignant-yet-gleeful "Keg on My Coffin" show that Trapper and his cohorts - bassist Dan McLoughlin and drummer Ryan MacMillan - haven't lost a step.
In the time between Push Stars albums, Trapper explored his own more thoughtful side with the acoustic-based solo album "Songs from the Drive In," while the other two worked on projects of their own, in between the usual torrid Push Stars touring.
The new album was produced by Greg Collins, who's previously produced work by No Doubt, Jewel, and matchbox twenty. That last connection led to matchbox twenty's Rob Thomas hearing the new disc, and becoming a huge fan. So huge, in fact, that the Push Stars opened the fall tour for matchbox twenty.
The fledgling 33rd Street Records is headed by former Capitol executive Irving Azoff.
"The band was eager to re-structure our whole business setup," said Trapper from his Boston home. "After the last album, we toured non-stop for a couple of years, and did everything ourselves, with a grassroots kind of approach and our own record company. Doing everything left us all exhausted, but we were able to control our own destiny to a certain extent. We just wanted a new start, so we could take a breath.
"We'd come to realize that control with no budget means you make really fast records - that can be mistake-prone. This time there was a budget, so we could do this record the right way - and the bass player didn't have to worry about also pressing 'record' at the right time."
Pairing with Great Big Sea is no accident, as one of the band's first forays outside Boston was with GBS. In addition, Trapper wrote several tunes for that band's last album, and even won one of Canada's vaunted SOCAN Awards for his work on the CD, which went gold in Canada.
"I even vacationed in St. John's last June," Trapper said of Great Big Sea's home town. "It was gorgeous, just a working class fishing town like Gloucester."
Through the years, the Push Stars have opened shows for Better Than Ezra, Third Eye Blind, Train, and fellow Bostonians Guster. Their music falls into that same general category, yet a bit more to the acoustic-guitar based type of sound that was best exemplified by the Beatles "Rubber Soul" album. The fall tour with matchbox twenty was a terrific opportunity to win new fans.
"I'd say their fan base matches ours, but multiplied by about 5,000 times," Trapper said.
"Matchbox twenty treated everybody with respect, from the road crew to the management, and it was nice to see people at that level of fame who remain good, humble people. I think, as a band, we've always had a certain trepidation about success - we didn't want to have to become cutthroat, or not stay true to ourselves. So, in a way, it was inspiring to see matchbox twenty prove that you can achieve fame like that, and still be down-to-earth, nice guys."
fans hear the new CD, there's no doubt "Keg on my Coffin" will
stick in people's heads. "That is my favorite song on the new album,"
Trapper admitted. "It all started with a conversation with my mom,
sitting around the kitchen table at home in Buffalo. A friend of the family
had just died, and she said 'Just be sure to put a keg on my coffin.'
I ended up going back to my room that night and writing the song. It perfectly
captures the attitude of my family, of let's enjoy what we've got, and
when someone passes let's remember them for the good they brought us,
and celebrate the life they led. I think the
The first single just might be "Outside of a Dream," another one of Trapper's thoughtful but effervescent musings on love.
"We all liked that song because it felt like us," he said. "That one stemmed from me playing a 1950's type of chordal progression, one that all the doo-wop groups had, so that it has a romantic, nostalgic kind of feel. I got some of the images from just driving around my old neighborhood in Buffalo.
"And it was meant as an antidote to one night on Lansdowne Street in Boston, when we came out and heard all this angry music blaring from cars. So much of the music today sounds so mean. That's another reason you appreciate a band like Great Big Sea so much, being able to craft a career with their inspiring, positive kind of music despite the fact that louder, angry rock has been on top so long."
could have been describing the Push Stars just as easily, which is why
this is a superb double bill, provided you might want to feel glad to
be alive for one night anyway.
With Great Big Sea
Wednesday, March 24 at the Odeon
It's only fitting that when Push Stars frontman Chris Trapper decided to leave his Buffalo hometown, Boston would be his destination. "I think there is a Boston sound," Trapper says. "I think maybe pop music here is seen as more of a cool thing than it is anyplace else, because when bands like the Lemonheads and Buffalo Tom were starting out, they were seen as alternative, but they were also very, very pop. They were seen as kind of cool, shoegazing bands, but they also had the pop element, so you could play it for your mother. It's easier here. You can still be kind of cool."
The Push Stars were another in a line of talented Boston pop bands without a record deal when next-state neighbors the Farrelly Brothers took a liking to their song "Everything Shines," which ended up on the soundtrack for There's Something About Mary.
Besides giving the band some much-needed visibility -- which led to a signing with Capitol -- "Everything Shines" has recently played matchmaker. Current tour hosts Great Big Sea had a hit with the song north of Trapper's hometown.
were playing on the Matchbox 20 tour in Canada last fall, and fans were
approaching us, saying, 'Hey, you covered a Great Big Sea song. That's
great.' After a little while we decided just to let it go and say, 'Well,
thank you for the compliment.'"
the Town" |
The Push Stars
33rd Street Records
Fans have been pushing Boston rock trio The Push Stars as the next big thing for almost a decade now.
"Paint the Town," the fourth studio album for singer-songwriter-guitarist Chris Trapper, bassist Dan McLoughlin and drummer Ryan McMillan, comes out on independent label 33rd Street Records Tuesday.
The dozen songs catch Buffalo native Trapper and mates in full bloom.
This pop rock with an edge shows that The Push Stars aren't anywhere near fat and happy.
The opening love song, "Claire," shows some wit and maturity to answer a girlfriend who questions his loyalty. "I got none for me, and I got two for you," Trapper sings. "There, this is your answer, Claire."
The first song the band is sending out to radio, "Outside of a Dream," showcases Trapper's deep, rich voice and the light's-gone-on observations of a guy approaching 30 who looks at his distant past - at least to him, it's distant - longingly.
"Lucky Sevens," with its pulsing layers, may be even a better radio choice.
But who knows if radio will ever play The Push Stars.
may have to be satisfied with the fact that their band can take a title
song such as "Paint The Town" and sound as if they've found
a comfortable sound somewhere between The Wallflowers and Matchbox Twenty.
Stars - Paint the Town
the vocals of Jacob Dylan and mix them with a band that sounds slight
more acoustic and slightly more raw and there you have The Push Stars.
The songs are not as poppy but they are not at all less well-crafted.
They do have the set "single" ready to go with the song "Every
Angel" where I can picture the crowd going insane, lighting lighters,
looking at their loved ones and crying. One of the best indie bands that
I've heard in a while and the song, "Every Angel" deserves to
be played at quite a few weddings at the least.
Band Deserves Push Star-dom|
BY LINDA LABAN
The Push Stars, at the Paradise, Boston, Thursday night.
The Push Stars kicked off a tour at the Paradise Thursday night with a performance that begged the question, why? As in, why is this band an ex-major-label-signed act? Why, when a band has as solid and accessible a pop-rock sound as the Push Stars, isn't someone jamming the nation's radio with its songs? Can it be that difficult? Was it something the band members said?
Of course, the Push Stars were very much a label victim, signing with the ill-fated Imago and Capitol in the mid-'90s. Plus, it can be ridiculously difficult to get heard. Even if you're talented.
Not that the Boston trio had any problems with its CD release show Thursday. The band said all the right things, in song at least, playing favorites such as the perky "Boston Girl" and the glorious "Everything Shines," as well as airing newcomers from "Paint the Town," which is due in stores Tuesday.
Those new songs seemed to fit right in, maybe adding a more rootsy, thoughtful turn. Songs such as the stormy-sweet "Claire" and "Outside of a Dream " were a keen mix of Chris Trapper's rich, passionate voice and his unabashed sentimentality.
It wasn't all about the cloudy condition of pop romance, though: "Keg on My Coffin," which reached for some Irish roots, was inspired, Trapper said, by one particular uncle's unbridled bonhomie.
Trapper and tour guitarist Hugh McGowan traded up the pop tack with some cool guitar stings, while bassist Dan McLoughlin and drummer Ryan MacMillan rounded out the solid team.
There's no denying the Push Stars still have tunes aplenty to offer, even almost 10 years down the line. But there's also no denying that great songs and great performances only get you as far as the playoffs. If you're even THAT lucky.
October 17, 02
August 17, 01
Review: Push Stars should 'open' big
(CNN) -- The Push Stars may be the best band you're not listening to yet.
The Boston, Massachusetts, group's fourth album, "Opening Time," continues showcasing award-winning songwriter Chris Trapper's outstanding ability to marry clever and touching lyrics with instantly enchanting melodies.
Put another way: The Push Stars create the kind of pop songs you aren't ashamed to let your friends hear playing on the stereo.
After finding success in the Boston music scene and unwittingly winning the title of "EMI's Best Unsigned Band in America" in 1997 (a fan entered the band on the sly), The Push Stars finally signed to a major-label record deal.
Capitol Records released the group's third album, "After the Party," in 1999. Things seemed to be heading in the right direction: major-label support and a successful tour that earned them new fans, plus the added bonus of providing music for the Farrelly brothers, who have used The Push Stars' music in most of their films since "There's Something About Mary" (1998).
However, when The Push Stars' A&R man left Capitol and the label's support appeared to dry up, the group decided to get out of its contract and create "Opening Time" on its own. It was a wise decision.
Depth and punch
Trapper's hollow-bodied guitar and syncopated rhythms routinely pervade The Push Stars' sound, and "Opening Time" is no exception. This time, though, the band took a few more risks in the studio. Patrick Mcloughlin's bass lines have more depth, and Ryan Macmillan's drumming has added punch. And instead of gliding along the surface of the song, Trapper's words are wrapped in a tightly knit sonic blanket of melodic and lyrical care.
The one-two combination of "Millionaire" and "All I Wanted," the album's second and third cuts, trace the need for financial and emotional fulfillment. "You see what you want/But you take what you get," Trapper sings. "Millionaire" presents a new musical texture for the band. Layered guitars, bass, drums, violins, keyboards, and operatic vocals bring a fullness to its customary jangly groove. Added to that is a push-and-pull rhythm that slides the groove back a beat before every crescendo.
"All I Wanted" and "Waiting, Watching, Wishing" are two more solid examples of the band's apparent comfort in the studio. Each is built upon a basic three-piece framework, and then given more oomph and bottom.
Track No. 4, "Who We Are," has a lounge feel, as the guitar line faintly echoes the melody of "The Girl From Ipanema." The song explores a common theme in The Push Stars' repertoire: the search for your own sense of self in the midst conformity.
But perhaps the most entertaining track offers a lesson - and a great groove. The story of "Frathouse Joe" is a rollicking account -- complete with a 1960s Hammond B-3 organ riff that sails along like a lost track from "Louie Louie" -- of a frat boy who decides to beat up his girlfriend after he thinks she has made fun of him in front of his friends. Poor Joe quickly learns not to "underestimate the power of the female" when he gets kicked off the football team and ends up in jail with -- how do we put it? -- a "friendly" roommate.
The album occasionally stumbles on the softer, slower tracks. Songs like "Last Night's Dream" and "Miracle" tend to meander a bit much. Sometimes it appears as if Trapper wrote his best ballad years ago ("Wild Irish Rose" on the band's debut, "Meet Me at the Fair"). But it is safe to imagine that there are many more songs awaiting his creative touch that will correct that.
In the meantime, "Opening Time" only cements the fact that this is a band to be reckoned with -- a band whose time is coming soon.
|May 18, 2001||The Syracuse Post Standard||The
Push Stars shine at Happy Endings
The Push Stars captured hearts and minds at Happy Endings Cake & Coffeehouse on Wednesday night.
The powerful trio from Boston proved that in their passionate hands, rock 'n' roll thrives.
Singer and guitarist Chris Trapper, bassist and keyboardist Dan McLoughlin and drummer and vocalist Ryan MacMillan may still turn out to be the next big thing. But as they proved in downtown Syracuse, they're going to do it their own way.
That's why they split with major label Capitol Records after just one disc and put out their brand new one, "Opening Time" on Boston independent label Co-Op Pop Records.
On the new song "Waiting, Wishing and Hoping," they sounded like Bruce Springsteen at his edgy, Americana best. And winding their way through other new ones like "Who We Are" and "Millionaire," the reason why their fans are so fervent was as plain as their songs are sublime - they can write intelligent lyrics and play the music as if they love every second onstage.
Old songs like "Shy," "Moving Target" and "Shameless Explanation" had fans from their vintage days - the mid- to late '90s - screaming along.
They gave Central New Yorkers a special treat with a guest appearance by Syracusan Phil Broikos, who ably sat in on trombone, accordion and keyboards.
Fellow Boston band Missing Joe provided an extremely pleasing opening set. "Everywhere I Go" from their new disc sounds very pop-radio friendly.
The guys in the two bands hang out some, obviously. Missing Joe members asked Trapper to play the first song he wrote after he moved from his native Buffalo to Boston in 1993. Trapper lighted up the room with just his voice and guitar with the passionate "Silvertown."
|Feb. 28, 2001||CMJ||Opening
Time (Co-op Pop/Wicked Disc) Review
It's not often that a successful pop band creates its best album and
then works to separate itself from the major label muscle that can
back it up. But when your A&R guy takes another job, and your record
label drops both Richard Thompson and John Hiatt in an effort to become
more "R&B," then it's time for a talented songwriter like Chris Trapper and
his Push Stars to take a hike. Produced by the band, Opening Time is
not only the Push Stars' best collection of songs to date, but it's also their
sonic zenith. In fact, "Waiting, Watching, Wishing" is like no other Push
Stars song. With layers of booming drums, bass, keyboards and guitars,
the catchy, zooming track is a "wall of sound" metaphor for a desperate
tale of stealing a car to escape smalltown bleakness. The Push Stars have
already scored movie soundtrack hits for Something About Mary and Me,
Myself & Irene, and Opening Time is utterly filled with gorgeous songs ripe
for film. With an uncanny knack for painting sonic wordscapes, Trapper can
evoke a gripping image through full-throttle rock songs like "Millionaire," or
do the same with only his voice and a piano on the anguished "Last Night's
Dream." Whether or not any songs on Opening Time end up as radio or movie
hits, there's no denying the sheer depth of talent and beauty contained on
these twelve tracks.
|May 19, 2000||The Boston Globe||WFNX/Boston
Phoenix fest has its moments
by Joan Anderman
Last year, a hip-shaking, cone-headed disco dancer on stilts greeted u on the upper reaches of Lansdowne Street. This year, a mild-mannered wizard strolled aimlessly through the thin crowd, setting the tone for a less-than-scintillating night of music at the 12th annual WFNX/Boston Phoenix fest.
That’s not to say there weren’t some strong performances: Local band Lunar Plexus infused Karma with a hypnotic barrage of techno-funk-rock anchored by charismatic singer Karen Ellis. And British rap-metal outfit One Minute Silence — shirtless and ominous — did their frontman’s little blond devil horns justice with sonic sewage that was as musically dynamic as the band was visually kinetic.
The night’s most-anticipated act — the Welsh band Catatonia — canceled at the last minute; something about singer Cerys Matthews going AWOL for a few days. This year, as in recent years, the absence of a big-name like Hole or Porno for Pyros — which debuted at this event in 1998 — could account for the slender crowd, put at 4,000 by WFNX spokesperson and between 2,000 and 2,500 by a police detail at the site. Springfield-based Staind, which closed down Avalon with an ear-splitting set, was the big marquee name Wednesday.
"I could have filled the local band slots with national acts," said WFNX program director Cruize. "But my sense is I’d rather roll the dice and get more exposure for new bands. Would I have liked there to be a line back to the other side of the ballpark? Sure, but it’s not the focus of this."
One surprising focus was pure, unadulterated pop, which saturated the outdoor stage. If not exactly the edgy alternative aesthetic of WFNX, endless friendly chords and tight harmonies seemed custom-made to complement the spring breeze and setting sun. Boston buzz band Waltham took the stage first, channeling the spirit of Rick Springfield and Loverboy into hook-drenched power anthems about girls, girls, girls. As a visual aid, the guys tossed band T-shirts to female fans in the audience.
Local favorites The Push Stars, who tend toward the extremes of mild-mannered rock, played the liveliest set I’ve heard from them — scrappy and wired, highlighted by a guest spot on woozy trombone by MIT senior Jason Lubetsky. Vertical Horizon, by contrast, was underwhelming. Riding the wave of the ubiquitous single "Everything You Want," the one-time jam band offered an endless set of paint-by-numbers alt-rockers.
Street action peaked early, when ‘FNX hosts Julie Kramer and Storm competed — in a time-honored tradition — to see who could cram more people into a VW bug. The final outcome? Kramer’s Krammers: 23, Storm’s Troopers: 22.
Meanwhile, stragglers browsed the concession stands lining Lansdowne Street, some playing Twister at the EZ-Wider rolling papers booth, others refueling with fare that spanned both music festival food groups: fried dough and sausages, and still others gawking at the couple making out all night on the sidewalk in front of Axis. Unlikeliest Rock Concert Concession award goes to Suffolk Downs, presumably there to court the next generation of gamblers.
Inside the clubs, local wiseguys Seventeen played a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am set in a depressingly empty Avalon. The handful in attendance were treated, however, to the band’s spirit-lifting ensembles of knee socks and skirts. Angry Salad kept the feel-good pop vibes flowing at Axis, as did the Hippos, an LA aka-punk band that shot off tasty, crispy nuggets at Bill’s Bar, Boston rock band Star Ghost Dog, which debuted a new keyboardist/backup vocalist on Wednesday, justified its rapid rise with a captivating blend of hooks, ambience, and beautifully textured noise.
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