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Saint (March 3, 2016)

Staten — Saint (March 3, 2016)

                     Staten — Saint (March 3, 2016)
Location: New Jersey
Album release: March 3,  2016
Record Label: Salty Banana Records
Genre: Pop, Dream Pop
Duration:     45:56
01. Patricia     3:49
02. Antilles     3:15
03. Solace     2:40
04. Lagoon     1:54
05. 6201     2:49
06. Dogwood     5:28
07. Something Quiet from Mother (Interlude)     1:40
08. Garbage     3:51
09. Calvary     4:21
10. Silver Plate     4:23
11. Madonna     6:33
12. UK / IG Streets (Bonus Track)     3:19
13. Screaming Jackal Acoustic (Bonus Track)     1:57
•≡•   Everything written by Justin Fernandez.
•≡•   Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Justin Fernandez @ Salty Banana Recording Studios.
•≡•   Additional vocals by Mary Angelique Demetillo on Something Quiet From Mother and Silver Plate. You are an angel.
•≡•   Additional vocals by Zachary Fader on Dogwood. Love you boyf.
•≡•   Additional vocals by Karl Fernandez on Madonna. Thanks for all the equipment and for pushing me to play the bass guitar when I was 8 years old.
•≡•   Thank you to Patricia Pacis for all the inspiration to these songs. And for letting me cry on your chest when I wanted to give up. I love you.
•≡•   To Zachary Fader, Ryan Downing, Kaley Bryant, Kourtney Kelley, Taryn Shaver, Lauren Marshall, and Victoria Schweitzer — 12403 till we die...
Album Review by Bradley Christensen
•≡•   Remember when I talked about how publications and critics are releasing their year–end lists earlier and earlier every year? I still find that incredibly weird, because the year isn’t even over yet, and you’re already talking about the best stuff. There might be more albums that you would miss in that month or few-week span, but I digress. •≡•   What critics do with their work is their business. It’s strange, but there’s nothing inherently bad or wrong with it. It’s just odd, because the year isn’t over. I get wanting to take some time to cover those records, but you’d be missed out on other stuff, too. •≡•   What’s even more strange, though, is that as soon as most critics and publications are done talking about their favorite albums, they’re already talking their most anticipated albums of next year. I find the idea of anticipating an album kind of weird, too; not because I don’t get excited for albums, or anything, but if you don’t know when an album is coming out, or even if an album is coming out, why get so excited about it? I used to have a friend that was very into all of this kind of stuff, and he made a huge list of stuff he was anticipating at the beginning of the year, and asked if I wanted to contribute by talking some albums I was anticipating, but to be honest, I wasn’t really anticipating anything in particular. I mean, I could have looked stuff up if I really wanted, but not only do I like being surprised, I don’t really pay attention to a lot of release dates. Sure, I’ll pre–order something, but it’s usually within a couple of weeks before it comes out. I don’t often pre–order or get excited about albums months ahead of time. I don’t know what the next year is going to sound like within the entirety of music. I don’t know what’s coming out, much less even a slight minority of what’s coming out, so I don’t understand critics and publications that treat it like some kind of event.
•≡•   I understand being excited about albums, and anticipating certain ones, but I don’t know. It’s just never been something that I do, much less do very often, because I don’t know what’s coming out. I didn’t start really paying attention to new albums, or even reviewing new albums, until the end of 2011. Even then, I didn’t take reviewing seriously until 2013, so I’m fairly new at this. The last few years have been pretty good in terms of music, thankfully, so it’s not like I haven’t had anything to talk about or care about, but when I was making my list of my favorite 2015 LPs, I wasn’t already talking about what I’m excited for this year, because I really had no idea was coming out, maybe other than the new Panic! At The Disco LP. There haven’t been many major releases that I’ve been excited about. A few came out recently, such as the new 1975 LP, and the new Hands Like Houses LP, but that’s about it. I’ve been focusing my time on a lot of underground and unknown releases. One of those releases is the subject of today’s review, but the band in question is one that might be familiar to regular readers of mine. About a year ago, I covered the last EP from New Jersey acoustic / emo act Staten, which was 2015’s Sorry. I loved that EP, and it was honestly one of my favorite EPs of last year, whether it was for frontman Justin Fernandez’s great vocals, very emotive and well–written lyrics, or its overall sound, being more than your average singer–songwriter affair.
•≡•   As soon as I heard that EP, I was excited for whatever he did next, and just a couple of months ago, we got a brief glimpse of his next project. In December, I noticed Fernandez came out with the song “Patricia,” a very beautifully written and poignant track about how he wishes he could have the same kind of love that his parents do, and he wishes he could feel the same way about something that his father felt about his mother. It’s a very sweet track, and he kind of announced his debut LP, Saint, so I was getting real excited about it, but I found out that the album was slated for release in March, so I’ve had something to be excited about. I loved Sorry, and I could only imagine with Fernandez has up his sleeve with Saint, but I didn’t have to wait that long. Earlier in the month, he approached me about reviewing the album, letting me listen to the record a few weeks in advance, so I can spend some time with it, and talk about it before its release. Well, that’s what I’m doing now, as I’ve spent a lot of time with this LP. It’s one that I definitely wanted to be careful with, and really soak in, because Staten’s sound is very delicate, intricate, and eloquent. If I really wanted to talk about this LP, I needed to spend a lot of time with it, which is exactly what I’ve done. Because I’m actually friends with Fernandez, I don’t want to come off that I only like Staten, and its releases, just because we’re friends. That’s not the case at all, as I really do genuinely enjoy Sorry, and I can also add Saint to that list, because I really enjoy this album, too. What’s interesting, though, is that I don’t enjoy it for the same reasons I enjoyed Sorry. Saint somehow does both what a debut album and a follow–up album all at once. Debut albums often establish an artist’s sound, so even if the album is rough in spots, you can still get an idea of what they sound like, but because Fernandez has released a lot of other EPs and singles, this album feels like a follow–up record, because it takes the sound that Fernandez establishes on Sorry, and actually progresses it forward.
•≡•   Honestly, its overall sound is one of its best traits. Not only does Fernandez take his brand of emo and acoustic music, he brings influences of folk, hip–hop, and R&B to the mix. Yeah, a few songs on this album have R&B / hip–hop beats, and you know what? It sounds amazing. They sound like almost nothing I’ve ever heard before, and they fit very well within the context of the album. Before I listened to the album, Fernandez told me that the album was a bit lengthy, clocking in at around 46 minutes, so I was expecting the album to possibly drag by the end, but it really doesn’t. That’s because the album has a lot of influences and sounds in it; I can’t stand a lot of singer–songwriter stuff, whether it’s because it’s just not very good, or that every song sounds exactly alike, so I don’t want to hear forty to fifty minutes’ worth of that kind of stuff. That’s how I feel with almost any genre; too much of anything can get really boring, meandering, and stale, but this album knows how to keep things fresh. You have some R&B cuts, some emo cuts, and some straight up acoustic cuts, but it never feels boring, or monotonous to listen to. I’ll admit that if you’re not into this kind of music, it might get boring, and you might not be all that crazy about it, but if you’re a fan of folk, indie, emo, or acoustic music, you’ll probably love this LP. I love it, and I’m not really that into this kind of stuff, but that’s because I also really love Fernandez’s vocals and lyrics. His vocals sound absolutely gorgeous on this record, and if I’m being honest, the production has really stepped up; the production on Sorry was fine, but it was clear that it was a lo–fi “bedroom” recording, but this album is very nicely produced. It sounds great, especially in headphones. One thing that comes through even better are the vocals, and Fernandez’s vocals are the best they’ve ever sounded. He’s got a real knack for both singing very well, and crafting very nice hooks. I find myself humming a lot of this after I listen to it, and I’ve found myself revisiting it a lot for its hooks and melodies.
•≡•   I’ve always really enjoyed Fernandez’s lyrics, too, and I wouldn’t do this record justice if I didn’t talk about them, because they’re fantastic. That is, if you’re into very depressing, dark, and very melancholy lyrics. Honestly, most of his “emo” sound comes from the lyrics, but they’re actually very interesting. It’s not like the lyrics are whiny, obnoxious, or dark for no rhyme or reason. There’s some heavy stuff being talked about on this LP, and it’s amazing how honest and vulnerable Fernandez gets. There are many times where he talks about not being good enough, or wishing he was dead, and because Fernandez is such a good vocalist, I can feel the emotion and desperation in his voice. This must have been a tough record to write, as well as perform, so I really give him credit for pulling these lyrics and writing them in the first place. They’re very good, and very, very well–written. A lot of the lyrics on this record connect with me on a very deep level, and I can imagine they’d connect with a lot of people. It’s all about wanting to be loved, wanting to be good enough, and just wanting to be remembered. Otherwise, though, I don’t really have any complaints about this LP. I mean, I guess it runs a little too long after a few listens, but I still enjoy this album enough to where it doesn’t really bother me. It’s practically a flawless album, especially because Saint does what a new record for any artist / band should — it takes the artist to another level musically by taking their already established sound and doing something different or new with it. Saint isn’t just s Sorry, Pt 2, but a different beast entirely. If you enjoyed Sorry, or you enjoy acoustic / emo / folk music, you’ll be missing out by not hearing Saint by Staten. The album is due for release on March 3rd, so do yourself a favor and get excited. It’ll be worth it, I promise. •≡•   http://concertjunkies.net/
CD Baby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/staten4

Saint (March 3, 2016)


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