Stagger & Belligerence
First Appeared at The Music Box, May 2004, Volume 11, #5
Written by John Metzger
Over the course of the past two years, ing has been making quite a name for itself within the region surrounding the San Francisco Bay. The group has topped several local readersí polls, receiving nods for the Bay Guardianís Best Local Rock Band of 2002, the San Francisco Weeklyís Best Local Band of 2003, and San Francisco Magazineís Best Club Band of 2003. Its success, however, hasnít come easily. The bandís roots were planted in 1995 when guitarist Mark Smotroff and lead singer Sean Mylett began performing as a duo on the regionís coffeehouse circuit. Three years later, it expanded into a four-piece ensemble and recorded its debut Liberty, an EP that was lauded by Billboard as "fresh and original." Yet, it wasnít until last year that ing completed work on its first full-length studio outing Stagger & Belligerence.
Like most independent artists, ing still is searching for its niche. Much of Stagger & Belligerence walks the line between generic, heartland rock (Connect in Grey; Not Dead, Not Dying) and jangly, infectious pop (Better Donít Do; Emory Down), though an intriguing influence of í70s prog-rock also pervades the set. Thereís a sense of Peter Gabriel-led Genesis that creeps through Satellites, and a blend of David Bowie and Marillion that fills Brotherhood Way. Unfortunately, in both cases, the songs fall prey to the í90s-era spirit of mass consumerism, making the end result undeniably bland. Faring better is the opening Better Donít Do with a power-pop sound not unlike Adrian Belewís The Bears and the closing one-two punch of Springfield Avenue and Big Beautiful Dipper, both of which shoot straight through the heart of R.E.M.ís folk-rock nuggets. That said, every tune on Stagger & Belligerence is delivered by Mylett with gut-wrenching passion, and that has to count for something. After all, Train, another Bay Area band with a history nearly identical to ing, has managed to climb the charts with a similar brew of intensely delivered arena-rock. Ĺ
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2004 The Music Box