Maria Mar’s Local Radar: Black Stars

My Wednesday friends, we meet again. It’s my favorite time of the week to chat local music with you all. Music submissions have been flooding my inbox as of late, and that is always a great problem to have. With everything from reggae and metal to alternative, punk, pop and soul, I am being pulled in a musical tug of war! This week, I am going to spotlight a band that performs a lot down South, yet still has their New Jersey roots. They recently reached out to me in regards to having their tunes spun on my show, and I needed to take a little time to fully digest their sound and dedicate the proper time that each release deserves. I found myself very impressed by their eclectic songs; each track almost sounds like it’s from a completely different band, and trust me, that’s a compliment! Please allow me to introduce you to my featured band of the week, Black Stars.

Black Stars are a four-piece rock band originally from Marlton, NJ, so they still get their Jersey rock cred! They have been together since roughly 2010, and have left minimal stones unturned since their formation. I’m glad they decided to let me know of all of the cool things they have going on as of late. In addition to being a spotlighted local band of the month on a huge radio station, they’ve been playing a ton of shows and released a new album back in March. They’ve played tons of rooms including the TLA, World Café Live, and many more. Now, they call themselves rock, which indeed they are, but in my opinion, they have a very psychedelic, jam sound. I started out with their track “Slick,” which really set the tone. If you want an easygoing song that will tone it down yet get you excited at the same time, check that one out. It almost says, “Hey, come on in, we don’t bite.” I would suggest listening to this one first if you’re new to the band.

After proceeding with musical caution, I decided to embark on “Leave Me Alone.” I must say, there have been many times in my life when I’ve thought about writing a song with that title and singing it to about 100,000 people daily; however, that is a completely different topic, so I digress. However, I am sure you can agree with me, so well done on the title, boys! Now back to business, this is the track that definitely showcases Nik Greeley’s incredible vocal range. He hits some high notes on this one and shows off just how well he can do it. Every once in a while you will find a lead vocalist who can deliver basic, soulful singing that is enjoyable on one song, and then completely switch it up to credible party rocking on the others. Nik is a perfect example of that “every once in a while.” Hey, if you’ve got it, flaunt it my friend. I really dig the soulful lyrics and tones on this one.

After a few plays and assurance that their tunes would get stuck in my head, I then put on “Raise Your Soul.” Now, this track is definitely a heavier one, and in a great way. If you’re a fan of raspier vocals, this one is for you. I personally feel that this number best showcases the talents of the band as a whole. The textured bass, surging guitar and well-timed drumming create more driving rhythms, giving it a dominant rock sound. I also would highly recommend “Don’t Let Go,” for this track makes one focus a little bit more on the lyrics. It has a strong message that many can relate to if you really break it down. One of the things I appreciated most on their record was the quirky, fuzzy, strong guitar tone that somehow took me back to a mid-‘90s alternative sound. However, that tone changes with each song, as it can almost be heavy at times. I guess it would be safe to say these guys are very experimental. All of the tracks in between are killer, not filler, and there is something enjoyable in there for everyone. I completely enjoyed their latest album from start to finish.

Now, what about the live set? I can honestly say I haven’t seen them yet, but I have checked out their YouTube content, and it seems like a big party that I’d like to be invited to. They have that funky style that many love without boring anyone, and just enough flavors to keep their sound interesting. I look forward to seeing them live when they head this way, as I can tell they will perform a bold, true and experimental show, which will definitely get mixed reactions! Getting people talking is great self-promotion guys, just throwing it out there!

Black Stars are one of the many bands doing their thing in the scene, playing countless shows and making new fans upon every release. They have an artistic balance of a very diverse style of music. While they are clearly dominating down South, I am hoping they will migrate my way in the near future! I will be back next week with another act, and who knows, it may be a solo artist, a pop, rock or punk group, or maybe even a cover band; whatever is appetizing my ears at the moment! Please continue to send me your submissions and suggestions, for I can never have enough music on my playlist (well, unless my iPhone tells me differently). Maybe if you’re bored over the weekend you could start a band, get to a show, or even write a song! Who knows, maybe you could be the next Local Radar celebrity. Keep the music scene alive people; I know you can do it.