It’s kind of fun hearing references to Chicago streets like Ashland and Kedzie on William Steffey’s ROADSTAR, especially when his lush techno songs mimic 1980s Brit bands like Prefab Sprout and Tears for Fears. Not fun enough, though, to hide the way most of his lyrics strain to be quirky. On the more rock-oriented “City Of Heroes” and the funky “Healing No. Four,” Steffey has a hard time singing the cumbersome words he penned. The best songs are the ambient title track, which uses a bare minimum of lyrics, and “World’s Tallest Building,” an energetic and truly fun instrumental. Steffey plays all the instruments himself, and his swirling synthesizer arrangements, particularly on the extended version of “Roadstar” that closes the CD, are imaginative and well-crafted.
How on earth do you label a CD that sounds out of this world? This is the question any reviewer will face when brought up against Willaim Steffeys brilliant “Roadstar”. Is it electronica? Well, no, not quite. Is it rock? Uhh…maybe, if you’re definition of rock is somewhat vague. This album is what it is: unique. And like everything unique, it’s not for everyone; the intrepid explorer will thrive on Steffeys’ new territory, the more reserved listener will feel lost in a world of poetry and prose; not able to find a footing to hold the ground of Steffey’s soundscape. But that will be their loss…for this CD is a goldmine for the intrepid music aficionado.
11 songs dwell on “Roadstar”. If you’re not into synth embellished “NIN” propositions, this album may not be for you. However, I recommend a listen because this is the true undiscovered artist. Words are powerful, they can shake your every movement with vibrancy, and the proof is in the pudding as they say. There is free downloads available at Steffeys’ website which should be hoarded upon like lost treasure with the one map in your hands. Go find this gold album.
I feel his voice sounds like Ben Folds, but less tongue-in-cheek. And the lyrics are like prozac to the poetically depressed: “When you hate the world, do you still love me?” he sings on “City of Heroes”. To a different speil, I think William should experiment more with his music while sustaining his free flowing poetic nuance. Maybe more of a less formulaic feel to the songs would benefit us all; in other words, let the music flow as free as your hyper-charged lyrics pour out.
Again here is an album which should be heard and might never be. I consider myself lucky to lend my ears to such an effort, and I recommend anyone else to do the same by visiting the website. 🙂
I give this album an 8.5 out of 10 on the evolution scale!
La música: de Chicago viene este hombre y su CD debut con 11 temas en los que toca todos los instrumentos. La música de Steffey mezcla electrónica, hard rock y la forma de escribir canciones de FM de los 70 en una música que viaja a una tierra de nadie, y remarco “viaja”, porque esta música viaja… no tengo claro cuál es el destino, pero con esto ves multitud de paisajes diferentes. Además de los estilos arriba mencionados (y también algunas otras cosas que encontraréis), Steffey añade (siempre) una línea de pop melódico a la música (en las voces principalmente), que contrasta con la fuerza de la música, música que son atmósferas y capas de sintetizadores mezclados con fuertes ritmos que oscilan entre la electrónica y el rock, mientras que las guitarras hacen ruido o hacen rock, y algunos otros momentos en los que él hace otras cosas y ninguna de ellas tiene una definición o límite claro (una constante en su música). “Roadstar” puede sonar algo antiguo o totalmente nuevo (algunas veces la sensación exploratoria de los 70 está muy presente), puede ser sugerente y sensual o caótico y casi punk (quizás algunos de estos últimos momentos sean demasiado “diferentes”); todas esas capas de sintetizadores rinden homenaje a la música hecha con estos instrumentos en los 70 y 80, el lado rock es pura energía amplificada, también hay algunos detalles de la música pop de los 80 y el cuerpo electrónico de la música es muy extenso y rico, pueden ser big beats, electrónica sensual, techno de los 80, un poco de drum’n’bass/break beats, electrónica atmosférica o más densa. Todavía no estoy seguro de adónde nos conduce esta carretera, pero es a un sitio con buena música.
PUNTUACIÓN GLOBAL: 8,5/10
Crítica por Héctor Noble Fernández.
William Steffey has the nicest promo materials of any package I’ve seen. Sometimes that can be a cover up for a not-so-good album, but not this time — Roadstar is an enjoyable album, with a variety of excellent songs and sounds. I like any album that can fuse electronica and rock, and this album accomplishes this seamlessly. “Ashland” combines a reggae beat, vocoder, and distorted guitars into a futuristic pop journey to Oregon. The title track is a downtempo affair with a robotic female vocal set to a groovy bassline with flourishes of trumpet and guitars. “Roadstar” returns again as the last track as well in re-mix form. The soundscapes of this record are lush; William Steffey has a real knack for combining electronic and acoustic elements into a cohesive song, a skill often lacking in other songwriters who play all the instruments on their albums.
I think if there was one word to describe this record, it would be simply “cool.” I first listened to this album while waiting for a flight at the Oakland Airport, and it provided an excellent soundtrack to watching all the people hustling here and there. In my own mental trip I imagined each track represented a different traveler on their own adventure.
Art rock with a great producer and engineer working the boards… it has that feel of 80’s techno fused with power pop into a pie with indie space rock ala mode on the side. Sound weird… how about David Bowie, Space Hog, and Mercury Rev hanging out with Devo in a hot tub. William Steffey is a creatively eclectic mess of a man that somehow orchestrates Roadstar into my top ten local Chicagoland artists list. William Steffey will find it hard to get a mass marketing campaign on his side… however I’m sure that if you are looking for music that is so original and creative that it makes the music of today seem pointless. Why not pick up Roadstar… and if not just turn on The Zone you predictable bastard.
Whatever happened to Morrissey? He was reincarnated as William Steffey. Vocals that border on alternative with poppy/rock background music, lyrics that make you think and a beat that makes you move.
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