Sunday Sounds: Northstar, “Like A.M. Radio”

It started with this post over at, Jason Tate’s “My Favorite Albums from the 2004 Era.” Okay, really, it started over two weeks ago with his “The Best Drive-Thru Records Albums” post which, and I’m not ashamed to admit it, made me tear up. Call me an “emo kid” and I’ll wear that proudly.

Anyhow, as I was reading the 2004 list I was incredibly pleased to see Northstar’s Pollyanna on the list. Pollyanna is one of my absolute favorite albums and Nick Torres one of the best songwriters I’ve ever come across. While “My Ricochet,” from the band’s first album Is This Thing Loaded?, is probably my favorite song of theirs, there’s a quality to Pollyanna as a whole that places it among my favorite albums. There’s really not a single song that I feel is the strongest (although “Two Zero Two” may be the most striking as an acoustic amidst all the electric-driven songs), nor one that feels the weakest, and it’s that kind of consistent strength is why it’s such a fabulous album.

In all honesty, I’ve only chosen “Like A.M Radio” because it was the first song that came to mind; any song off of this album would have sufficed! While I’ve got a weakness for guitar-driven alternative rock, this is also a perfect example of how wonderfully keen Torres is in crafting lyrics.

Torres has a penchant for setting up beautifully elaborate atmospheres rife with metaphor. In “Like A.M. Radio,” as in many of his other songs, he somehow manages to balance sentiments of regret as well as conceit (and just a hint of narcissism!), all while maintaining an authentic sincerity. The fact that his voice is so damn smooth also helps. The frenetic musical energy at the end of the song is also so fantastic, with just the right amount of lyrical angst.

I’m very grateful that I was able to see Northstar live before they disbanded. Here’s one of the few good pictures I took years ago when I saw them (with Say Anything, who is also on that same list!):

Two Zero Two - Northstar 7

The whole set can be viewed over at my flickr. Unfortunately I couldn’t get any SA shots, but hey, I’ve got Straylight Run pictures!

P.S. I’m also very fond of the “My Favorite Albums from the 2001-2003 Era” post. That year (and obviously those albums too) is particularly close to my heart, but I’m not ready to get into that just yet. So many amazing songs though!

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