I have been dissing the Noughties (ie 2001 to 2010) as being devoid of great music. But of course, that’s not entirely true. As some of you might know, Power of Pop has been around since 1998 and so I am going to be posting reviews of great albums from the Noughties just to remind everyone (and myself) that there was still great music to be had, if you knew where to look.


STARFLYER 59 Leave Here a Stranger (Tooth & Nail)

Jason Martin, who essentially IS Starflyer 59, is one of indie-pop’s best-kept secrets. This singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist has, with this latest album, released 10 albums under the Starflyer 59 moniker and it may just about his best work yet.

If one word comes closest to describing Starflyer 59’s sound, it would probably be “pop-gazing.” Meaning that Martin has managed a successful hybrid of the British “shoe-gazer” movement of the late-80s and early-90s viz. My Bloody Valentine, The House of Love, Ride, Chapterhouse and the nascent Blur AND the classic (fragile) powerpop of the Byrds, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub & the Posies.

Leave Here a Stranger, recorded in MONO, jumps straight out of the blocks with the music-themed trilogy of “All My Friends Who Play Guitar,” “Can You Play Drums” and “When I Learn to Sing.” Using the band scenario as an analogy for life, Martin narrates in hushed Colin Blunstone tones the experience of fame-seeking (‘so this is what we did for a name, we took a taste of life in our country’) and wishful thinking (‘when I learn to read, I’ll change my ways on everything.’)

Charged with acoustic reveries, Americana inflections and infinitely chiming guitars, Martin and band a times recalls the chamber pop of the Pernice Brothers, especially on the melancholy textures of “Give Up the War,” “Things Like This Help Me” and “This I Don’t Need.”

A fascinating effort that gets better with each play from a master craftsman who deserves more recognition that he currently receives. (A)


Buy Leave Here a Stranger from Amazon