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Artist: Stavesacre/Denison Marrs
Label: Velvet Blue Music
Length: 6 tracks
Stavesacre turns in three uncharacteristically weak and uninspired tracks for this limited-edition split EP for Velvet Blue Music. They’re paint-by-numbers affairs somewhere in between the hardcore of Absolutes and the more melodic, emo-influenced Speakeasy. Unfortunately, they lack the magic of either of these two albums and feel bland and emotionless. Only "Island" breaks the surface, and even then it’s only briefly, and the band quickly drowns again.
Denison Marrs, on the other hand, give us three songs that are among the best of their short career. They’re in the emo/indie rock vein, but more important than the sound, the band sounds like they’re enjoying themselves. "Zero Gravity" is definitely the best of them, with its thick guitars building into lead singer Eric Collins’ emotional catharsis.
Michial Farmer (8/6/01)
Stavesacre and Denison Marrs may appear to be a contrast in musical styles and instrumental exploration. Stavesacre thrives on rocking hard with the vocals of Mark Solomon, which have become a trademark over the years. Denison Marrs combines glowing emo rhythms with an alternative rock edge. Their differences on this EP are apparent, but the diversity makes this project all the more appealing, allowing listeners of various palates the chance to digest two high quality acts.
Classic Stavesacre permeates "Sad Parade" and "Island," while "Night Town" shows the group upping the ante when it comes to the decibel level. Denison Marrs shines on "The New Droan (Light Years Away)" bearing resemblance to Jets to Brazil and The Gloria Record. "A Consequence Plan" has an ethereal undertone, despite its rock laden beats, while "Zero Gravity" feels like a continuation from their "Holding Hands" sessions.
There's not much fault a music lover with a broad spectrum of tastes can find with this split E.P. After a few spins of the disc, fans will salivate for the upcoming full length projects from each band.
Andy Argyrakis 8/22/2001
For this split EP, Stavesacre broke away from the popular Tooth & Nail label to make something for the fans. In the process, they helped to further the popularity of Florida band Denison Marrs.
Stavesacre starts off the split with three brand new songs. More in the direction that they took with Speakeasy, the new songs sound relatively dry and uninspired compared with past works from the band. Stavesacre sounds like they kicked it onto auto-pilot for this split. The song "Island" does stick out, however, as a well-written song about a breakup. The music for the song is pretty catchy as well. The main thing that these new Stavesacre songs did for me was make me long for the days of Friction and Absolutes. But don't give up on the band yet, their sound is still evolving.
Denison Marrs was a band that I had heard relatively little from before this album. The sound of Denison Marrs probably fits best into the emo genre, yet it doesn't necessarily follow the same route as successful emo bands like Appleseed Cast and Pop Unknown. Denison Marrs has forged their own niche which a pop sensibility to the music but at the same time they are decidedly alternative. There is a nice touch of the atmospheric to be found here as well. "The New Droan (Light Years Away)" and "A Consequence Plan" are both on the new full-length Denison Marrs album, while "Zero Gravity" is only found on this split EP. While all three songs are quite well executed, my favorite is "A Consequence Plan", with chorus that has gotten stuck in my head for days.
Surprisingly, with this split I found that Denison Marrs came out ahead of Stavesacre. What that bodes for the future of both of these bands remains to be seen.
Trae Cadenhead 8/23/2001
The split album concept is an interesting premise, on the one hand being a perfect way for new bands to break on the scene. The audience of the two (or more) bands are pooled, whilst the costs of production are cut, making a high quality recording an actual possibility. On the other hand, the whole thing could go drastically wrong. The bands need to have similar qualities. Not many Avalon fans will want to buy a split Avalon / Zao album.
Stavesacre and Denison Marrs fit nicely together and it's not likely a fan of either the bands would be deterred by the other. Stavesacre pump out hard alternative rock, faintly familiar to Creed without the polished recording. Denison Marrs are a relatively unique fusion of punk, emo and pop. Both bands have a remarkable sense of melody extending well beyond the painfully overdone power chords we hear so often today in rock music.
The Stavesacre songs are disappointing. The song ideas show a faint progression on 99's _Speakeasy_ - which in itself was not much of a progression on _Absolutes_ , - but the production is the real let down. Surprising, since producer Clif Norrell has in the past worked with REM, Faith No More and Jeff Buckley. But a good track record doesn't guarantee success every time. Mark Salomon?s vocals are washed out: it sounds like he's singing his heart out just to reach over the music. This drastically obstructs his performance, and the emotional intensity he was able to reach in _Speakeasy_ is unattainable.
In contrast to Stavesacre, the Denison Marrs songs show a world of promise. They have the speedy attitude of punk songs, yet contain the beautiful melodic quality of emo. Simple lead guitar riffs layer the music in a field of melody and harmony, whilst charging underneath are powerful rhythms accented by Eric Collins' melancholic vocals. The result is a thick, emotionally triggered soundscape with a droning intensity that is simply amazing.
Despite Stavesacre's rather poor performance, I still look forward to future albums from both these bands: Denison Marrs to see where they go from here and how they develop; and Stavesacre in the hopes that they'll return to the quality of "Speakeasy."
Eric Daams 10/14/2001