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RadioStar SF - "Skulls, Stars & Guitars" (CD)

RadioStar SF - "Skulls, Stars & Guitars" CD cover image

"Skulls, Stars & Guitars" track listing:

1. Blackness Of My Heart
2. Blood And Fire
3. Puppy (Theme To The Motion Picture)
4. Not My Life
5. Buried Alive
6. Sixth Sense
7. Space Wolf
8. Didn't I?
9. Didn't I? (Part II)

Reviewed by on April 22, 2009

"Skyler delivers some splendidly wah-wah-soaked solos throughout the album. Those solos, regrettably, are much better than the songs that spawn them."

If I happened to walk into a bar where RadioStar SF was playing, I probably wouldn't leave. That's about the most praise I can muster for this band, which aims for the heights of the Misfits and Reverend Horton Heat, but falls way short of the mark.

"Skulls, Stars & Guitars" will likely be found on the merch table at some local drinking establishment or theater near you at some point. My advice is to go for the T-shirt if you want something other than the hangover to remember the night by.

The album opens with some splendid Stevie Ray Vaughn-style guitar squeal courtesy of Jay Skyler that got my hopes up, but those hopes were immediately dashed the moment Skyler started singing. The lyrics are silly and the deep-voiced Skyler can't carry off the falsetto moments he tries.

I will give him some credit for his fiery ax-work, though. Skyler delivers some splendidly wah-wah-soaked solos throughout the album. Those solos, regrettably, are much better than the songs that spawn them. Those songs alternate between bluesy punk and clean electric guitar-fueled alt-radio rock, and become pretty much indistinguishable after the first couple tracks.

Weirdly enough, my pick for best and worst song on this album are the same one — "Puppy (Theme To The Motion Picture)." Apparently, it's the theme to a low-budget horror film starring Alice Cooper's daughter. I laughed out loud at the silliness of the opening lyric, "Little doggie, why did you bite the hand that feeds you?" It was obvious on this track that the band was aiming for something tongue-in-cheek.

The production on "Skulls, Stars & Guitars" is pretty poor, with Skyler's vocals routinely completely overwhelming everything else. The guitars (except during the solos) are tinny, and the drum sound is quite sparse, with little in the way of resonance.

Your average merch table CD in a bar or theater, "Skulls, Stars & Guitars" isn't memorable for anything except guitar solos that are better than the songs they're in. Skip it.

Highs: Guitarist Jay Skyler's adept solos; the silly horror film theme "Puppy."

Lows: Pretty much everything else.

Bottom line: If you see this disc on the merch table, go for the T-shirt instead.

Rated 2 out of 5 skulls
2 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)