Stillwater Black came together in 1991 when Chris Thayer met Ahmed and Sam Pierstorff while playing in the pit band for a high school musical production. Issac McCorkell was quickly recruited on drums and the band recorded its first EP, The Last Virtuous Lady of Athens.

In 1995 they signed with Cleaves Entertainment, a now-defunct independent label based out of Southern California's Inland Empire. Stillwater Black recorded their debut LP, Adam. They played frequently with local and national acts including Dishwalla, Save Ferris, Reel Big Fish, and IE punk/ska mainstays, The Skeletones.

In 1997 the members parted ways and the project lay dormant for two decades.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Artist Profile: My Chemical Romance

As mentioned in a previous post, I've been out of the popular music scene for a couple of decades.

That's been mostly great. I hear tell that the quality of musical output over that period really took a dive. And, with what little of it I've heard, I tend to agree.

I don't think Stillwater Black ever really broke new ground, but I think we were good at what we did. And that's all I want out of any performer in any given genre. If you innovate, great. But at a minimum, the work of a mainstream artist should be representative of the best the genre has to offer. And, in much of the contemporary music that I've been exposed to, I have not heard that to be the case.

But I don't listen so much. Chris has and does. And as my musical mentor, he's been kind enough to point me in the direction of some really great music.

The first thing he lent me was My Chemical Romance's The Black Parade.

The album came out in 2006. The band dissolved a full four years before I'd ever heard note one, so really late to this party.

Better late than never, though. What could have been a really good rock album is catapulted through fantastically creative arranging and production into a thrilling masterpiece of all-out angst. The bombastic drumming, the driving guitar work, vocalist Gerard Way's frenetic whining howl, and the plethora of musical surprises and orchestrations combine into a unified expression of glossy, brilliant frustration.

The whole album is amazing, but a listen to the title track will suffice to demonstrate all that I have just said and will likely eliminate the need for me to say anything else. This must be among contemporary rock's greatest moments.

This is Sgt. Pepper's for the disillusioned. Enjoy:

And after that, listen to longshot, over and over . . . .

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