Press for Meridians . . .

The meandering, dreamy indie music from The Stares is deceptive at every turn. The band weaves together a conflicting knot of emotions on songs that are both sad and sweet, complicated and simple. On first listen, the group’s sound seems stripped-down and plain. But the more you hear, the more a distinct and subtle texture emerges.

The group’s personnel, as listed on The Stares’ second record Meridians, includes five members, with an additional six as guests, but the roster listed on their Facebook page is even more extensive.

Singers Angie Benintendi and Drew Whittemore co-front the band with beautifully vulnerable voices.  And while the band clearly has access to a boatload of members and sounds (including baritone guitar, French horn, oboe d’amore, sitar, and vibes) they choose their instrumentation carefully and deliberately. It’d be very easy for a band with this much arsenal to become muddled, but The Stares do it artfully so the end result isn’t overwhelming.

With a mix this clean, every tiny detail of the song becomes apparent and important. You can hear as much on “Ceviche,” a song with rich interplay between the two singers.

It would also be easy for music like this to sound a bit overplayed.  But it comes off as both sincere and, in some cases, slightly haunting.
- Sarah Ventre, NPR’s All Songs Considered: Second Stage

Press for Spine to Sea . . .

A translucent and angelic vocal floating on a gentle pulse is hallmark of The Stares. Riding safely through an assortment of gems, listeners will be sparked to close their eyes and drift off into fantasy. A highly-flavored piano opens Spine to Sea on “Disconnected Again”, a perfect ballad with secure, balanced vocals and crisp guitar. Male vocals meet female vocals in steady unison on the soft rocking “8,000 feet” as “1 2 3″ an exquisite, multi layered piece, growing by the measure into a beautiful emotional feast. Poignant lyrics, and a sturdy instrumental foundation, The Stares have it all going for them.
- Antonia Santangelo, The Big Takeover

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Things you can do in the 49 minutes and 43 seconds it takes to listen to Spine to Sea: Bake an apple pie. Remember the sound of first love dissolving (three descending glockenspiel notes and a minor chord played on a wurlitzer). Dig out albums by The Walkabouts. Google Hope Sandoval and Elizabeth Frazer. Iron 14 shirts. contemplate suicide. Write note, press repeat button, weep, discard note.
- The Editors, Magnet Magazine

The Stares write lullabies: these songs disappear easily. Spine To Sea is lazy, sweet, and sad. Fall asleep to The Stares, wake up ten minutes later-the boundaries are gone. This is anesthetic for the harsh lines between sleep and awareness. There are no sharp edges here, no breaks, and no surprises.

The Stares seem to care little about their place in music. They occupy their own. This is experimental music of the simplest sort. While most of what’s thought of in that realm tends toward the loud, the abrasive, and the disordered, these are simple melodies, carefully constructed arrangements of traditional instruments, slowed down to the point where it tests the listener-an experiment with tempo. The success of this experiment is up to that listener and their attention span. Those willing to slow down for fifty minutes are rewarded with eight (long) tracks of unassuming prettiness. The Stares touch a few definable musical forms. Some songs approach Beatlesque ballads, some hint at traditional folk shapes, and others at the thick orchestrations of northwest style postrock. It’s rare that any element of these songs climbs above the others, including the gorgeously lazy vocals of Angie Benintendi, submerged for long periods into breathy whispers, and then re-emerging a song later in glassy clarity. On “On Repeat” a french horn plays for twenty seconds before you realize it’s there. A string section sneaks into the room, plays for another fifteen, and when we realize what we’re surrounded by, there’s nothing like surprise.

The Stares, as yet rather unknown and undoubtedly drowned out in their clamorous hometown of Seattle, seem to be in little hurry to reach that intersection with the larger listening world. It will come. There are enough patient and introspective people in the world to raise this band up. And The Stares will be waiting contentedly, still keeping their own time.
- Michael Byrne, The Red Alert

Debut recording from Seattle, Washington’s Stares. While a quartet at their core, the group is handsomely lined out into an eleven-piece with french horn, viola & violin, english horn, oboe, celeste, vibes, flute, bass clarinet and cello all playing a part in their lush sound. The “orchestral” arrangements were scored by none other than the pacific northwest’s bow wielding wunderkind and Sun City Girls collaborator Eyvind Kang (who plays both the violin and viola on the tracks here). The wonderfully lugubrious tempos of their songs will no doubt remind listeners of the Radar Brothers. Like the Radar Brothers, but maybe also equally similar to Radiohead’s OK Computer, The Stares lyrics (the singing duties are split equally between the male and female members) have a similar bleakness of outlook that’s just thinly veiled by a warm blanket of opiate-like music. A further note must be made to Kang’s orchestral arrangements, which are perhaps the most tasteful we’ve heard used with a rock band yet — not burdensomely pretentious like many indie-chamber-rock attempts have been. The songs on spine to sea are often breathtakingly beautiful and eerily reminiscent of another era. This is another similarity the group shares with the Radar Brothers, albeit in a different way. For example, there’s more than one instance on Spine to Sea when we’re certain that The Stares are referencing (or channeling?) Eric Carmen’s 70’s superhit tear jerker “All By Myself”. Creepy, beautiful, and recommended.
-Aquarius Records

“…admirable self-restraint and deep satchel of influences accumulate into music as subtle as it is beautiful.”
-The Stranger

“..a moody, string-filled minor gem…”
-The Seattle Times

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