After checking out The Stacking Stones Band’s music online a while back and identifying them as an outfit I wanted to see live, I caught (and reviewed) them at Arlington Porchfest this spring. It was during the run-up to that gig I discovered they were working on this album, and I’ve been looking forward to reviewing it ever since.
Album Review of The Stacking Stones Band: The Stacking Stones Band
Mid-tempo, smooth, easy-to-listen-to classic bluesy rock. The Stacking Stones Band is so deceptively precise it makes the music sound as if it almost comes too easy; the band’s music is instantly comfortably familiar. Whether background music during dinner, road-trip or commuting car music, or in a concert setting receiving full attention, this band’s music and performance style are the sort that can easily integrate into listeners’ lives. The seven songs on The Stacking Stones Band’s eponymous album are straightforward, original and exceptionally well-performed. The band does nothing earth-shattering, but they do it well. The Stacking Stones Band is a tight outfit performing well-constructed, straight-ahead bluesy rock.
“Can’t Shake the Feeling” kicks the record off with a familiar rock ‘n roll rhythm, slowly building, adding crisp vocals first, then the rest of the band jangles its way into the party.
“Roses” was the first track to stand out to me from this collection. The verses flow along comfortably, so when the band features slightly greater energy in the chorus, a neat little guitar line, and slightly soaring vocals, though they’re still pretty relaxed, they stand out as a catchy hook. Add in some comfortable horn-work, and it’s a song you’ll remember.
“So Familiar” follows with a seventies soft rock almost Eagles-ish guitar line, a lying-back-in-a-hammock, peaceful, easy (see what I did there?) tempo, topped by a smoothly bluesy vocal, augmented by an ever-so-relaxed, perfectly-paced sax bridge. If this song doesn’t bring your blood pressure down while putting a smile on your face, nothing will.
“Lightning Rod” introduces some edgy funky blues to the mix.
It’s followed by what has become my favorite song on the disc, “Waste My Time.” A classic, low-fi blues-rock guitar line pulls the listener in as the song builds. ’60s rock-flavored, almost-psychedelic bridges and chorus offset the cheerfully energetic, guitar-powered verses. It’s a cheerful slow-build that eventually pays off in a late-song guitar solo before settling down just a bit. In all, it’s a fun journey driven by that hooky, crunchy guitar line.
“Las Cruces” carries a similar guitar signature, but it proceeds at a much more mellow pace. The song and its more specifically bluesy guitar riffs, matched well to slightly rougher vocals, give the impression of an open road in mirage-creating heat, wide-open like the picture on the album cover, though with some heat-driven blurriness.
The disc ends with another of my personal favorites, “You and Me.” This track brings the album to an end with a light, energetic cheerfulness. Jangly guitars, vocals with a hint of blues, and playful musical transitions that are somewhat Southern rock in nature. This is the one you’ll find yourself singing along with, rocking coolly, head bobbing with your shades on, to “you and me on the run.”
The Stacking Stones Band will be performing at Sally O’Brien’s in Somerville, MA on Saturday night, October 14th. Keep an eye on the “Upcoming Shows” tab of the band’s website and the band’s Facebook page for future live performance information.