|Sept. 1999||Boston Magazine||
by Andrew Rimas
Ebay stocks might be worthless in a month. A surer bet is that someday The Push Stars will be getting so much airplay you could stick them in a room with the Barenaked Ladies and wait to see who comes out alive. They won "Rising Star" at this year's Boston Music Awards, following up on last year's "Outstanding Rock Band" and "Outstanding Songwriter" for singer/guitarist Chris Trapper. Then there was a single on the soundtrack of There's Something About Mary, a new album on Capitol records, obsequious press reviews, and a snowballing fan base that threatens to avalanche and crush the request lines.
|Aug. 3, 1999||www.Music.com||Arena
JULIAN LENNON and THE PUSH STARS
Irving Plaza, NYC
by Sherry Thomas
Not to be overlooked is the opening act on this tour, The Push Stars. This fabulous trio from Boston, MA, features a songwriter that is unsurpassed and tunes that are unforgettable. The Push Stars short, but sweet 35-minute set included tracks from After The Party on Capitol Records. "Everything Shines" (a song that is on the There's Something About Mary soundtrack), the humorous "Drunk Is Better Than Dead," the peppy "Minnesota," the first single "Any Little Town," and "Silvertown" from a previous release were just some of the gems. The Push Stars gave a great start to an unforgettable evening.
|Jul. 29, 1999||Subway Entertainment Guide||At
Toad's Place in New Haven, CT
by Rob Wilson
Opening for the Julian Lennon troupe were The Push Stars, by way of Cambridge, Massachusetts (home of MIT), just north of Boston. Dating from Aerosmith and J. Geils up to the present moment, Beantown has spawned a bevy of fine rock bands. The Push Stars, pushing their recent AFTER THE PARTY release (on Capitol), are the latest in that vaunted, venerated lineage. On disc, The Push Stars are a cut above - but on stage, they are truly stellar, burning brightly.
Unlike so many opening acts, who rock audiences often rudely, routinely diss/dismiss/ignore in favor of the featured headliner, The Push Stars grabbed listeners by the shoulders and shins from their first memorable descending chord progression - and never eased their steely grip. PS proffers a lead vocalist/axeman with Bryan Adams charisma and a set of Goo Goo Dolls’ pipes (Chris Trapper), a powerhouse drummer in Ryan MacMillan to keep the band a-chuggin’ down the rails, and a really nimble bass player (Dan McLoughlin), who has a delectable grasp of harmonic melody and fluid counterpoint riffs. Hey, any band that can blend in the mournful bleat of a slide trombone and the airy, old-fashioned wheeze of an ivory accordion gets extra points in my playbook.
Hybridizing rock, power-pop, and folky C&W influences into a pleasing potpourri - arguably in the vein of the Jayhawks, Rembrandts, younger Neil Young and the Counting Crows - The Push Stars were greeted by whistles and applause when they kicked into a pair of familiar tunes, particularly "Any Little Town" (recognizable because of escalating radio airplay) and their hyperdrive "Everything Shines" from the new album and the THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY soundtrack (introduced as "our most naïve, politically incorrect song").
"Too Much Pride" detailed a romantic chance encounter in a smoky bar, while "Cadillac," the CD’s closer about searching for faith, took a mellow start and kicked past its second set of lyrics with added bounce and resolve, wrapping with a "here I am" chorus as indelible as a sailor’s tattoo. Altogether, their smart, literate lyrics, lock-step guitar/bass rapport, storyteller’s bald-faced honesty and infectious grooves snagged the packed throng at Toad’s from songs one through nine. No one present would’ve complained in the slightest if The Push Stars doubled their playing time.
|July, 1999||Spin Magazine||HIT
The Push Stars: After the Party (Capitol)
You can always tell a band from Boston: the jangly guitar, the brawny beats, the melancholy male vocals. And the Push Stars, who have been kicking around Beantown for years, don't disappoint. With some high-gloss polish from Goo Goo Dolls' mixer Jack Joseph-Puig, they may finally get a chance to rock Cleveland, too.
|May 21, 1999||Hits Magazine|| Watch
this Boston trio clean up "after the party" for their stunning major label
debut. Push comes to shove everyone else aside. Boston has given the world
another superb pop-rock band in this trio, whom you might recall from the
soundtrack to "There's Something About Mary." On "Party," singer / guitarist
Chris Trapper's songs get a deluxe sonic treatment from genius producer
Jack Joseph Puig, and the results are smart, emotionally direct, and melodically
satisfying. Standouts include "Everything Shines," the rollicking "Minnesota,"
and the passionate "Moving Target." Join the "Party."
|May 21, 1999||www.AltRockWorld.com||At
Joyous Lake in Woodstock, NY
by Therese McKeon
It was that time of night where you don't know whether you should even bother going to bed. You know what I'm talking about. It's that time slot somewhere between "very, very late" and "very, very early." I had just seen The Push Stars pull off a double set show that had gone well into the wee hours of the morning. That night at The Joyous Lake in Woodstock, New York, it wasn't hard to see why these three guys had earned such an amazing reputation. This band is not for those with low stamina - as I soon found out. According to the local radio station - WDST in Woodstock, NY - double sets and late nights were status quo for The Push Stars.
Every so often you come across a band that makes you glad to be alive. The Push Stars are that rare type of band that somehow touches you and moves you and leaves you changed. There are no gimmicks. There is no marketing scheme. These are the caliber of people who genuinely feel and play from the heart. It is no surprise that devoted fans had come from far and wide to see them.
This was the first of their CD release parties for their new album appropriately entitled "After The Party" (the second and official release party was the next night in their hometown of Boston, MA). I wondered how they would be up for another double set late night. Chris, Ryan, Dan and I hung out in the upstairs lounge to talk about the new album, why they were named this year's "Rising Star" at the Boston Music Awards (BMA), and much, much more. Pull up a chair, listen in, and stay for a while. After all, it's After The Party.
Chris Trapper - vocals, guitar
Ryan MacMillan - drums, percussion
Dan McLoughlin - bass, keyboards
ARW: So, the new CD "After The Party" just came out…
Chris: It did? Wait a second. Hold on a minute. When was this?
Chris: It's during the party right now.
ARW: How did you come up with that title?
Chris: We had been playing live constantly so we had worked up a lot of party songs to kind of keep the crowd going. Our plan was to record those songs. But when we got to the studio, it's kind of like giving birth. You don't know what's going to come out. Whatever comes out comes out. So when walked in to record, those song didn't come out right. It didn't feel right. We ended up recording more…
Dan: More melancholy?
Chris: More melancholy, more sensitive tracks that kind of felt right to us. Hence the name "After The Party" 'cause we felt like we were going to record a total party record and then it didn't end up that way. It ended up being more of a late night, after the party vibe.
ARW: I like the photography and artwork on the CD. It gave me a real "Rat Pack" feel.
Ryan: That's what we were going for… "Rat Pack" feel.
Ryan: We're the new "Rat Pack." No, not really. Not even close.
Dan: We were so enamored by that whole era. We all come from that background where we grew up listening to Nat King Cole records - literally. There's something about that time in the late fifties, early sixties where it was kind of… sophisticated but not too sophisticated - where there was some party atmosphere going on. You knew there was shaky wrongdoings going on but you didn't get the whole picture. You got a little snapshot of something - a melancholy mood that was happening… a cigarette burning in an ashtray. Frank Sinatra sitting at the bar having a drink or something. It was just a real special time for music.
Dan: Classy but not afraid to be vulnerable and lonely.
Chris: Also, during the making of our record, we were staying at this place called the Roosevelt Hotel which is an old, classic Hollywood hotel. After a session we went back to the hotel, we walked into our rooms and turned on the TV and what happened was… Frank Sinatra had died… while we were making our record, so we did it kind of as a tribute to him.
Dan: It was a weird thing. I got into my room and turned on the TV. It was still... motionless. There was this picture of him and music for about 15 minutes. I called Chris to tell him, and he was like "did you hear," and it was weird.
ARW: Are you afraid of being pigeon-holed into a particular genre?
Dan: We don't fear that. We probably used to, but there is nothing you can do about it. We've accepted that. It's not in our control at all. Wherever the American public, or world public for that matter, wants to put us - it's up to them. All we can do is represent ourselves the way that we really want to be perceived, and if that's misperceived by everyone, then we've done our best. If you worry about that, then you're worrying about the wrong thing. If you're going into it and thinking about that, then you're really thinking too far ahead about what you're really doing. If Paul McCartney thought when he formed The Beatles that everyone was going to put him in the Everly Brothers class, then that would have stopped his creativity from becoming The Beatles. Not to compare us to The Beatles by any stretch of the imagination, but there will always be influences. There will always be people who you'll want to compare yourself to.
ARW: How has it been with Capitol Records?
Chris: We've been careful to be certain that our own character is preserved. We didn't want to be tossed in the pool with a bunch of other bands. We're in control of our own artwork. We're in control of records and how the record is produced. We're in control of what the songs are. And we're in control of what the sound is. That's how we've dealt with it thus far. It's been a good thing. We had a clear vision of what we were more so than other bands, I believe. We kind of knew what we were getting into it.
ARW: Can you tell me what it is about Woodstock? We've got people coming from as far away as Rochester. Can you tell me about tomorrow night and all this CD releasing that's going on?
Ryan: We kind of started here. When the band originally formed, it was basically here in Woodstock. We got our first gig here so we had a connection to this town. And when our first record came out, WDST picked us up and started playing us a lot. We kept coming back as much as possible. It's become our second home. It's like our home away from home. People come from all over the place when we play here. It's kind of a weird thing. I think it's part of being in Woodstock. It's kind of a nostalgic place.
Dan: I think it's also a fun place to come. People make a trip out of it. It's a nice town, and it's almost touristy in a way. WDST has been incredibly supportive and incredibly eclectic in what they've done. They've never listened to what we should play or what people are telling them to play. It's amazing. We've made a lot of friends with a lot of the people there. We can't say enough about the power of radio.
Chris: The first place we played here was a place called The Beechtree in Poughkeepsie, which was across from Vassar College. We came here from Boston thinking that it would be a totally dead end tour and no one would come out to see us. When we got there… it's a little restaurant but it was packed! Everybody kept telling us, "Hey, I heard you guys on DST!" It was our first actual radio exposure, so that was a really cool thing.
ARW: You have a single out now called "Any Little Town." How did you pick that track as the first one to go with?
Chris: We picked it because we thought it was overall representative of who we were - meaning, it's romantic. It's nostalgic, yet it still has the energy to it, so we felt that it was a good lead track that would introduce us. Then bring some of the quirkier tracks.
ARW: This is a different version of "Any Little Town" than what you have played before and appears on other recordings of yours.
Chris: We felt we had cut it one way. That was done. We've done that - the jazzier, pop version. Then we thought, if we're going to cut it for our record, where could we take it that would be completely new territory for it? But still have the feel of the song and be comfortable with what the song is about? So we thought we'd make it a little more rocking, a little more dancy, but at the same time keep the integrity of the song. Try to incorporate that with the song.
Dan: Each song that we have ever recorded has been evolution of the song. At the time, it was a snapshot of where we were in the evolution of "Any Little Town." That wasn't meant to be the ultimate version. That's where we were at the time with that song. It doesn't necessarily mean that it was the ultimate version of the song at the time. As we thought about it more, we thought with this record, "Now this is the kind of song it was meant to be." We all feel so happy with it. We played it back, and we finally decided on this groove and aggressiveness. It's better. When you're close to something and you have it in your brain, it's hard to let go of it and accept what it should be. It's kind of like a kid.
Dan: Anything on "Meet Me At The Fair" was kind of - to us - pretty much the best we could do.
Ryan: It was done.
Chris: Old hat.
Dan: When we looked back at the "Tonight" EP, we were like "Yeah, this is good." Why do it again?
Ryan: Don't fix what ain't broken. Not that "Any Little Town" was broken.
Dan: It reached its full potential, and it grew up and became the ultimate version of the song. "One Summer Day" - we didn't improve upon it. "Meet Me At The Fair" is a work of ours when we were younger. Now it's time to move on. Chris is writing many more songs every day. There was no pressure from the record company. The producer and the record company suggested that they liked those songs a lot. That was flattering to us but we all thought about it. We made a record of the best songs we have right now, and that's what we did.
Chris: We cut for them something like thirty songs. That's what we had ready. From that comes the process of elimination and saying "what's not working now" because of where the heart is. Everything sounds okay but where is the real root and the passion of the band?
ARW: So where can people see you on tour?
Chris: We've touring with Better Than Ezra on the West Coast, and then we're back here on the East Coast this summer and touring with Julian Lennon.
Dan: We try to open up new markets, and the best way to do that is tour with a band that can sell out big clubs.
ARW: I think you'll do well. You guys are "Rising Stars"! Did you at least know that?
Chris: No! <laughter>
Dan: We found that out.
ARW: Tell me about that. How does that make you feel?
Chris: I vomited for about four hours.
Chris: That was weird.
ARW: So you were actually present at it? You were given an actual award?
Ryan: Oh man. It was very exciting. It's kind of a weird feeling when you're sitting in a whole group - this big crowd of people. Then you hear your name as a nomination. You kind of sit in your seat and you hear all these other names. You get really nervous. Your adrenaline starts going. And then they called us and said that we won, and they started playing our song. You're really psyched, and you feel honored that people feel that way about you that they would want to vote you a "Rising Star." So we went up and accepted our award.
ARW: This is the fourth year in a row winning an award?
Dan: No, this is our second year.
ARW: Four awards though?
Dan: Second as a band. Chris won one year solo. He played solo for a while.
Chris: I'm going solo! Tomorrow night and then that's it! The show is over.
ARW: You guys were in CMJ magazine recently. Can I ask about the song "Drunk Is Better Than Dead"? I swear I am hearing you guys playing the saw or something at the beginning of that song!
Chris: Dan has a perfect answer for that.
ARW: And horns… all kinds of things.
Dan: You're talking sonically now. That is an instrument called the theramin, which is actually an electronic box.
ARW: Is that the thing you put your hand over to make the sounds?
Chris: How did you know that? That is incredible! Dan: The wave forms a vibration. The most popular application is "Good Vibrations" by The Beach Boys.
ARW: How did you come up with that?
Dan: There is always a connection between what's going on lyrically and what's going on sonically - even if you don't really plan it. It kind of happens naturally. This song… I try to explain it to people because they often take it the wrong way. It's just a story that kind of has an ironic twist to it. It's about the lesser of two evils - one is "offing" yourself and the other is drinking yourself to death. Both are evils but one is the lesser of the two. If someone says, "Well, keep getting drunk. If you're going to kill yourself, then just get a little drunk." But what could happen is you end up dying. The story is that Chris went to a party once, and there was a guy there who was basically dead from drinking.
Chris: I walked into the party late. I got there at about one in the morning.
ARW: Thus "after the party"…
Chris: Exactly! So, there was this guy passed out on the bathroom floor, and his head was like two feet from the toilet.
ARW: Oh no.
Chris: People were so drunk at the party that they were oblivious to him. They walked in
ARW: Oh wow!
Chris: I walked in sober, and I was "somebody help this guy." I grabbed him and I propped him up in the bathtub. He lived, thank God, but his skin was like a purple green color.
Chris: It was scary. So like a week after that happened, I wrote that song.
ARW: Is that going to be a single?
Dan: It will show up as a single eventually. I like the song personally. I think its message is actually very proactive to the point of - you should not take anything at face value. Anything that is thrown at you, any type of ideology should be taken with a grain of salt. You should think about everything that people say to you and come up with your own opinions and own feelings. There is always a fear that people take it at face value.
Dan: That being said, there are two sides to the coin. One is that we should make people really think and not give you something where you don't have to think . You're just spoon fed what you're supposed to think. I mean, I think, if it's an issue - and it definitely is - then people should be forced to think about it and talk about it. Like I said before, no matter what you do, you can't control what people think about your song.
ARW: You guys have a song on the soundtrack for "There's Something About Mary" called "Everything Shines."
Chris: We do? <laughter>
ARW: That is a great song. I have the cassette single with "Cadillac" on the other side. Can you tell me about that song?
Chris: I took a trip to San Francisco a few years ago. I was dating a girl who forgave me for something very heinous that I had done. One night I sat in her back bedroom and wrote that song. It literally took maybe half an hour to complete the whole song. I sat down with my guitar, and the whole thing came immediately. It was so weird. It came out. And that, for me, is the best type of song. For some reason when it's very spontaneous, it really captures something versus when it's thought out.
ARW: So does she forgive him in the end?
Dan: This is one of the beauties that I got out of this song personally. I feel I can answer this because everyone gets something out of the song. I think you love somebody through their weaknesses and their strengths. Sometimes when you just love someone, you can see through why they have their weaknesses and go right to the face of who they are. And you realize that they're either lying or they have their weaknesses. It's based on something that is so genuine and pure in the deepness of their soul that someone could see right through. I feel like you need me now and put your head on my shoulder and just relax and be yourself.
ARW: He's going to make me cry!
Chris: Dan, you're beautiful, man!
Dan: Just be yourself. Throw away all those insecurities and all those lies and everything. And I love you for your weaknesses, through your faults, through all the bad things about you and all the good things about you. And no matter what - it's all of you. You can't just love the good parts. You have to love the bad part, too.
Ryan: You guys are just so damn romantic!
Ryan: We're looking forward to the "In and Out Burgers."
Dan: "In and Out Burger" is the best burger joint in all the world!
Chris: He plugs them all the time. He's got some stock in the company.
ARW: What about Johnny Rockets?
Ryan: Johnny Rockets doesn't compare.
Chris: I think Johnny Rockets is great.
ARW: So, any last words on the album and why people should pick it up?
Chris: They shouldn't. It's such a waste of money.
Ryan: Save your fifteen bucks.
Chris: It spans the feelings of romanticism, of loneliness, of hope, of exhilaration. It's a driving-in-your-car record and a sitting-in-your-bed record. I think our goal was to have the listener travel to different places with us. I think we kind of connected to that. Every song has a different feel to it and a different value.
Dan: We were really, really careful to choose the right people, the right songs. You never know, though. We wanted to make it a mood album. Take you on a little trip. Just like when you're at a party. We wanted to get that feel.
ARW: I love that album cover.
Dan: I don't know if you guys realize this, but we were here a year ago on Valentine's Day. It was our last Woodstock show. And after the show, it was four, five, six in the morning when we were done here - like it always is. It's always a late night here. And we went and did the shoot the next day, and we were exhausted, and it was truly "after the party."
ARW: Very cool!
Dan: We were thinking, "We gotta rest up, we have a shoot tomorrow." But the whole idea of the shoot - it's five in the morning, and it's time to think about your life and what went on at the party and what you're going to do tomorrow and where you're going with your life - it's a reflective record. It's meant to make you think.
Chris: The cover picture is definitely very true because when we were here we had kind of a wild night. We're not the most responsible bunch of guys, so we were like "Oh, photo shoot, big deal" and we went to the photo shoot exhausted and hung over. I think we were drinking during the photo shoot!
ARW: Any chance of doing a video?
Chris: The cheapest video nowadays is like $650,000.
Ryan: We have better things to spend it on.
Chris: Like good peanut butter.
Ryan: We live on fluff-a-nutter and peanut butter.
ARW: Well, thank you for your time and good luck with the tour, guys!
|May 20, 1999||The Boston Phoenix||Honest
The Push Stars shine on After the Party
by Jonathan Perry
It was a rainy March afternoon in Austin. The Push Stars were thousands of miles from home. And singer/songwriter Chris Trapper wanted to send a message. In a few hours, Trapper's band were scheduled to perform before a throng of critics, publicists, and assorted industry bigwigs at the South by Southwest Music Conference, the taste-making music-biz event of the year. Among said bigwigs would be the power brokers at Capitol Records -- the label that had signed the Push Stars to a five-album deal after winning a bidding war for the band's services with a pair of other heavyweights (Columbia and the label formerly known as Geffen). Although their major-label debut, After the Party, wouldn't be released for another two months, the Boston-based trio had already gotten some national attention with "Everything Shines," a song featured on the Capitol soundtrack to last summer's surprise hit movie There's Something About Mary. There was already a buzz about the band. Trapper knew what had to be done.
"I said we should open up with a cover song," he recalls over lunch with bandmates Ryan MacMillan (drums, percussion) and Dan McLoughlin (bass, keyboards) at the Other Side Café on Newbury Street, where both he and MacMillan used to work. "It was Buddy Holly's `Rave On,' and we had never played it, but I felt it was really crucial to open up with that, so that it would say we're still confident. We're still us. We're still the same band that would whip songs off at the Common Ground in Allston. We still take chances, and we're still that band that's just doing it naturally."
Although the Push Stars may think of themselves as the same outfit they were back in 1995 when they began performing every Tuesday night at the Common Ground -- and indeed they carry themselves with the same innate warmth, humility, and charm -- what has changed are the expectations and stakes surrounding a band Trapper claims "kind of happened by accident. I didn't put an ad in the Phoenix that said I need a bass player with long hair and a drummer with big breasts. It was completely unplanned. The first few years, we were just having fun playing gigs and not totally worrying about the career aspect of it. And then suddenly we looked and said, `Omigod, we're signed.' And suddenly it's big business and suddenly it's a career -- hopefully, if all goes well."
"Back when we were making records ourselves and recording for the fun of it, there was no pressure, really," says McLoughlin (though the band had at one point been signed to Imago, that label folded shortly after the Push Stars released their '96 debut, Meet Me at the Fair). "And now there's a big corporation and a bunch of people whose lives and work depends on your success, so that's something we've got to take into account. But on the other hand, it's really good to know that there's also people rooting for us. We're not just doing this as three guys anymore."
The promotional push for the band got underway even before the SxSW showcase. In February and March, the Push Stars played a round of far-flung concert dates that took them to Cleveland, Chicago, Omaha, Dallas, Philadelphia, and, of course, Trapper's home town of Buffalo. Last month, the band performed at a meet-and-greet pre-CD release bash at Bill's Bar, then topped the week off with a couple of Earth Day concert appearances in Boston and New York and a round of press interviews. And this Saturday they'll hold their record-release party proper at the Paradise (with My Favorite Relative opening) before hitting the road to support After the Party. You can bet that before the year's over, the Push Stars will have performed the disc's first single, "Any Little Town" (an embryonic version of the song appeared on the band's self-released seven-song EP, Tonight), more times than they can count.
"When I look back at how hard we've worked, I realize that we now have to work three times as hard," McLoughlin allows. "We don't feel like we're anywhere yet. On paper, it looks like we're somewhere, but we feel we've got so much to do." MacMillan agrees: "We have to do what we did here in Boston in every other town in America, which means we've got about 300 towns to go." Even though the band have already laid some of the groundwork for the reception they hope to get in that great pop wilderness called Middle America, sleep does not come easily these days for Trapper.
"I definitely feel a heightened sense of pressure," he confides between sips of coffee. "I keep waking up at five in the morning and sitting up in bed for no reason thinking, `Why am I doing this?' But I do truly care about the fate of this record, and I really want it to be heard by people. I'm saying that not so much from a careerist perspective but just from the perspective that I feel good about it, that we've created something positive. So I feel very anxious that it gets a fair shot and has a chance to live and breathe. Because I think it's something people will get if they hear it. I think a lot of music today is not reaching out to real, everyday people. It's about extremes now."
There's little chance that anyone who hears After the Party will confuse it with what's being turned out by Korn or Creed or Sleater-Kinney. The album emphasizes the rootsy glow and classic pop warmth that have always defined the Push Stars' broad-based approach -- it's a disc that could easily share the cross-demographic appeal of a band like Counting Crows. Working with the high-profile producers Jack Joseph-Puig (the Verve Pipe, Goo Goo Dolls) and Gavin MacKillop (Toad the Wet Sprocket), the Push Stars augmented their straightforward guitar/bass/drums formula with electric sitar, mandolin, timpani, trombone, and -- on one track ("Drunk Is Better Than Dead") -- even theremin.
"We wanted to say we're a pop band but not a disposable pop band," explains Trapper. "Our goal was to make a record that you could put on five years from now and not be like, `Omigod, what were we thinking?' And a lot of that has to do with the production and sound choices that we made."
The result is a streamlined collection of burnished pop songs that place Trapper's warm, amber voice front and center. "Any Little Town" (which has been receiving airplay locally on WBOS and the River) announces itself with breezy brushstrokes of Trapper's guitar and a galloping groove spiked with artful touches of mandolin, electric sitar, and Rhodes keyboard. Despite the ornamentation, which brings to mind John Mellencamp's accordion- and violin-tinged heartland hits, the song is roomy, and the band sound relaxed and confident. "Meet Me on Main Street" would, even without Trapper's lyrics about a failed relationship, convey a melancholy sadness with its disconsolate guitar progression and the spare piano notes that frame the chorus. "Sofkuri's Room," which may be Trapper's most accomplished writing effort so far, is an exercise in elegant simplicity, with his tender voice framed by nothing more than a softly picked acoustic-guitar figure that recalls Simon & Garfunkel at their most tranquil.
Overall the album is a well-rounded effort that points up many of the band's acknowledged strengths, as well as some of their perceived weaknesses. On a pop-music spectrum where, say, Britney Spears and Sparklehorse occupy either end, the Push Stars tend to fall somewhere in the congenial, mainstream middle. Perhaps that's why the Push Stars -- despite having been named the best unsigned band in America in a 1997 contest sponsored by EMI Music Publishing and Radio & Records and winning a handful of Boston Music Awards including "Outstanding Rock Band" last year and the "Rising Star" title this year -- are rarely mentioned when talk turns to Boston's hippest or most cutting-edge bands.
"I think our goal from the first day was to create our own scene," says Trapper. "So we started playing at the Common Ground in Allston on Tuesday night for 12 people, and that kind of became our Boston scene. Then a couple of years passed and we couldn't play there anymore because it got too packed. Our goal was to be a home for people who don't feel cool enough, who don't feel like they're trendy people. We saw a lot of hip Boston bands kinda start in Boston and be cool in Boston and then die in Boston and never break outside of Boston. We're not going to go back to our practice space and rework songs and say, `We've got to make this cooler.' You can only do what you do honestly and then put it out there. We have bigger worries now than whether we're a cool Boston band."
Indeed, it's their honesty that sets the Push Stars apart from the endless assembly line of flavor-of-the-month alterna-rockers. Their music may not demand a daring leap of faith on the part of listeners, but that's never been the band's desire or focus. Trapper never comes across as calculated or pandering on After the Party (and as a lyricist he towers head and shoulders above generic modern-rock poster boys like the Goo Goo Dolls' Johnny Rzeznik or that guy from Matchbox 20), and the music doesn't ever sound tossed off or contrived. What you hear instead is the sound of a guileless pop band with heart making guileless pop music with heart -- sunny one moment, a little sentimental the next, but always sincere. It's rock-and-roll comfort food -- wholly accessible, universal music that's meant to be heard by people listening in any crowded club or lonely bedroom, in any little town.
|May 18, 1999||Standard Observer||Lead
singer / guitarist Chris Trapper's vocals echo Springsteen and Elvis Costello
at times, but it's the music that stands out: clean, crisp, guitar-driven
tunes that are unpretentious yet compelling. Pure pop music doesn't get
much better than this, circa 1999.
|May 17, 1999||CMJ New Music Report||THE
After The Party - CAPITOL
-- Glen Sansone
Boston's Push Stars have been steadily gaining momentum since the days of their self-released EP Tonight and 1996's Meet Me At The Fair. Once a mere twinkle in the sky of the music industry, the trio has garnered the necessary insider praise to make After The Party one of the most anticipated major label debuts of 1999. While the trio plays a lively, expertly crafted composite of rock, folk and country, the true allure of After The Party is in its songs' conversational, story-like quality, which helps each of the album's dozen jewels take a distinct sparkle and an individual sense of purpose. Singer-songwriter/guitarist Chris Trapper complements each track -- from the driving jangle of "Any Little Town" to the ponderous "Cinderella" -- with his riveting voice, which effortlessly shifts from dulcet whispers to emotive, soul-bearing growls -- think early Bruce Springsteen crossed with Mark Eitzel. Not to be lost in the mix, drummer Ryan MacMillan and bassist/keyboardist Dan McLoughlin add polish and subtle beauty. With radio-hit potential too great to measure, the Push Stars' endless melodies are hard to shake.
|Apr. 23, 1999||Gavin||Easily
one of the best records by a new group so far this year...the kind of music
picky hold outs like you and me so righteously deserve...Their new album,
After the Party, is flush with killer songs. This Boston trio boasts a unique
singer originally from Buffalo (Chris Trapper) who is writing some amazing
|Mar. 18, 1999||The Austin American-Statesman|| READY
TO BE HOUSEHOLD NAMES
The acts flying under the radar this year that might be headed for a buzz
THE PUSH STARS
The Push Stars, heard heretofore in "There's Something About Mary" and various MTV shows, embody that style often associated with Buffalo Tom or the Lemonheads -- you know, the kind that makes the young girls' hearts soar. The Stars' Capitol Records debut, "After the Party," offers clever songs and a fresh enough send-up of the genre to probably win over plenty of critics, too. -- Chris Riemenschneider
|Jan. 22, 1999||The Atlanta Constitution||Stars
of the Future
Lock in your bragging rights: See emerging group now
Maybe you weren't in the audience the first time Prince strutted onstage in bikini underpants. Or when Jewel yodeled her first aphorism. Or when Michael Stipe mumbled his first indecipherable. Don't fret. There are still plenty of musical discoveries to be made. Check out the following act destined to make enough of a mark on pop music that you'll be proud to say, "I saw them when." Look for the Push Stars to soon join the ranks of overplayed alternative artists, right up there with the Goo Goo Dolls and Third Eye Blind .... The Push Stars have such a winning sound that it would be a pleasure to hear them 20 times a day on 99X. -- Doug Hamilton
|Mar. 23, 1998||The New York Times||Critic's
Forget About the Next Star; Look for What's Different
by Neil Strauss
" ... classic pop perfection ... "
|Jun. 30, 1998||The Boston Tab||The
Push Stars Move to the Majors
by Ken Capobianco
One of Boston's purest pop bands has taken the leap into major labeldom with the hope of breaking out and making a mark beyond the Big Dig. The Push Stars signed with Capitol Records this past January and they are just about done with their debut, which they hope to drop in January. Can they pass go and collect? Well, forget the $200. Weâre talking gold, baby, platinum, lady, heck, open the vault while we're at it.
"We're trying to be really practical about all of this," says songwriter Chris Trapper, who leads the band at the Paradise on July 9. "We know that signing with Capitol was not the ultimate goal, but it's the first step. They give us a little help, but we've been trying to set the stage for moving beyond the Boston audience by playing around and developing a grassroots following."
Trapper says that the trio's debut will feature all new originals except for one track from their "Tonight" EP, which they are recutting. They are working with hit maker Gavin MacKillop and Jack Joseph Puig, who has produced the Black Crowes and has had his fingerprints as mixer on two of today's monster singles, Semisonic's "Closing Time" and the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris."
"What we've tried to do is develop a fuller sound and move a little deeper into a few of our influences," Trapper adds. "There's some country leanings as Greg Leisz (who played with Bonnie Raitt and Dave Alvin, among others) sits in on pedal steel for a few cuts. There's a horn player and accordion also, so people around here who know our sound will accept and, we hope, appreciate some of the changes."
Trapper, who is augmented by bassist Dan McLoughlin and drummer Ryan MacMillan, feels that the major label status-and let's face it, it's something every local band is fishing for-is not going to change their approach to their work or their lives.
"I've seen a lot of my friends who have gotten signed get really cocky or develop an ego and turned off a lot of people," he says. "We're not like that and we won't be. That's not the way to go. This is an opportunity, we're excited and life changes because my main job now is to play music. And that kind of work, all three of us know, is work we love."
|Oct. 30, 1997||Birmingham Weekly|| The
sky is filled with yearning young pop bands, and The Push Stars are the
next big thing in it. -- David Mackle
|May 20, 1996||CMJ||The
Push Stars trio perform acoustically rich, smartly arranged songs that are
as memorable as those of John Wesley Harding, Buffalo Tom or the Lemonheads
-- songs which are soul-bearing tales presented with an ever-present sense
of compassion, innocence and warmth. It's a rare and splendid thing when
a band can mix such simple ingredients and themes, and make them so absorbing
and sublime. This is a must-hear. - CMJ