It seems that Ric Bennett and his label Twin Earth Records are firing on all cylinders. And he now even got support from a family member, namely his wife Elisa Maria, who completes the trio ‘Stars That Move’ with her deliciously haunting lead vocals. We’ll talk about that a little bit later in more detail as we are going to take a much closer look at what you will find their 2016 release titled ‘No Riders’. Before we do that, let’s complete the staff roster: While Ric, as usual, is in charge of the guitars and Elisa Maria taking care of the Vox, Frank Sikes’s drumming is as solid and song-conducive as it has been in the past, like for instance on the self-titled ‘Starchild’ album we discussed a couple of weeks ago. He’s the kind of drummer you want in your band, that’s all I’m saying!
Speaking of ‘Starchild’, the comparison to ‘Stars That Move’ is perhaps obvious, but in my opinion doesn’t really make sense. The premise of each band and album is different. However, I think it is fair to say that the general direction of ‘Starchild’ was more within the framework of classic or contemporary Doom, whereas ‘Stars That Move’ navigates within the confines of a much more liberal and broader spectrum. This is my way of telling you that I really don’t feel comfortable putting ‘Stars That Move’ and ‘No Riders’ into a specific category or genre. I of course have no insight relative to what the band had set out to accomplish with the album. To me, as a consumer and fan, though it seems that Ric, Elisa Maria and Frank allowed themselves to explore and incorporate pretty much anything that wanted to, without following a predefined agenda.
Let’s talk about Ric’s guitar work on ‘No Riders’, because that for sure deserves separate recognition. We already knew that the man knows how to handle an axe, but on this particular album, Ric solidified the fact that he’s not just a great guitar player, but also excellent musician in general. One who knows what to play and when to play it – and when NOT to play ‘it’, which is equally as important. The bottom line is, if you’re at all into blues-retro-heavy-stoner- Rock (why don’t we just call everything “Rock ‘n’ Roll” going forward, dammit!) and if you play guitar – even if you don’t – you’ll love what Ric does on this album. I guarantee it.
We already alluded to Elisa Maria’s contributions. She can obviously sing, but what really impressed me most was the atmospheric and comfortably eerie vibe that I get when listening to her. It’s difficult to articulate, it’s something you need to hear for yourself to understand. It’s not as ‘prominent’ as for instance Emily’s (of Mount Salem) singing, but rather subdued and therefore perfectly conducive to the band’s sound. I said something very similar about Ric and his guitar playing – it’s all a matter of finding the right balance.
And the three of them sure did on this album!
Here is my video review of ‘Stars That Move’ and their 2016 release ‘No Riders’:
No Riders Tracklist:
1. The Devil’s Fountain
4. Lost Beyond the Stars
5. Burning Village
6. Oh, Sharon
7. TV Dinners
8. People of the Sea
As I had stated before, you need to listen to this for yourself. It’s an awesome album and let’s help spreading the word.
Also, check out the Stars That Move Facebook Page for more info on the band and the record.