Meridians. Finally.

So, it’s been a long, long time since last we spoke. The Stares have never been prolific with releasing music, playing gigs, or updating the website, but a three-year period of silence seems a bit much, and for that we apologize.

Hopefully we can mend some of our distance with this update, because as you’ve probably noticed with the revamped website, we’ve been hard at work. You see, we have a bomb to drop: The Stares live. Not only are we alive, but we are elated to announce the release of our brand-spanking-new full–length record, Meridians.

You heard right.

New record. Well actually, it’s a CD. But with 10 tracks, and clocking in at just under 47 minutes, we consider Meridians a body of work as heard on vinyl discs of yore. Call us old fashioned, we call ourselves idealists.

The CD comes in a gorgeous 6-panel wallet. For people who like to hold tangible art in their hands, this is a product that can proudly be displayed atop the fireplace mantle.

Of course, since we live in the digital age, you will be able to purchase tracks as MP3s, though it will take some time for online digital retailers to make these available. Our recommendation? Buy Meridians directly from us. We have the CD now, hot off the New Jersey plant presses, and will ship it to you promptly. We want these things out the door and into your hands to add to your summer soundtrack. Meridians will also be available soon on CDBaby.com and Amazon.com, and a select few Seattle record shops, but purchasing directly through us offers The Stares the greatest rate of return. In the music biz that may not amount to much, but every little bit helps.

All 10 tracks are available for your streaming pleasure, just click on the player to the right. For a short time only!

Please spread the love and forward this to friends or family who you think need the new Stares record. Thank you for your support, and enjoy Meridians. It sounds amazing and we are thrilled to finally let it go.

(sound of deeply exhaled breath)

The Stares: Meridians
1. Ceviche (3:50)
2. Sucia (3:47)
3. Mâche Mêlée (3:53)
4. Giants (3:12)
5. Eclipse of the Sunne (6:17)
6. 1973 (6:14)
7. Sister Cities (4:06)
8. Just Kicking (3:41)
9. Space Pause (5:14)
10. Spine to Sea (6:34)

Angie Benintendi – voice, piano, keys
Don McGreevy – bass, percussion, baritone guitar
Jason Merculief – drums, percussion
Bill Patton – pedal steel, guitar
Drew Whittemore – voice, guitars, mandolin
with
Josiah Boothby – French horn
Eyvind Kang – viola, violin, sitar
Taina Karr – English horn, oboe, oboe d’amore
Paul Moore – organ
Skerik – vibes
Gretchen Yanover – cello

Recorded in 2006 at Studio Litho and Aleph Studios by Randall Dunn with Mell Dettmer.
Mixed in 2006 at London Bridge Studio by Randall Dunn and Mell Dettmer.
Mastered in 2007 at Sinister Kitchen by Mell Dettmer.
String and horn arrangements by Eyvind Kang.
Design and photography by Drew Whittemore.
Produced by Randall Dunn with The Stares.

Half a decade is a sizeable chunk of time, and in the music business, it’s nearly forever. For Seattle band The Stares, it’s taken five years to follow up their debut record, Spine to Sea (2005), with sophomore outing, Meridians. Following the trajectory of The Stares is like watching glaciers recede; that is, things move slowly. As with any long-term relationship, life happens: band members came together, toured in a sweet R.V., played in other bands, fell out of bands, went back to school, changed careers, fought, had gear fall out of the back of a van while driving (twice), and married, though not necessarily in that order. For The Stares, Meridians became a labor of love, not so much in the recording of it, but in the follow-up, releasing the record to the world. Embracing the brave new world of self-release, the band is finally making some headway.

Documenting the artistic growth of the entire Stares creative family, Meridians was recorded in spring 2006 at Studio Litho and Aleph Studios by the same production team that worked on Spine to Sea, including engineers Randall Dunn and Mell Dettmer (Earth, Sunno))), Boris, Secret Chiefs 3, Black Mountain, Sun City Girls), and string and horn arranger extraordinaire Eyvind Kang (Blonde Redhead, Bill Frisell, Laurie Anderson, Mr. Bungle, Laura Veirs). Mixing ensued at London Bridge Studio at the tail end of 2006, with a 1973 Neve 8048 mixing board adding the perfect amount of warmth and dust. Yes, The Stares love the vintage gear.

The ten tracks on Meridians gestated for some time before the band laid down basic tracks onto 2-inch tape. Benintendi (voice, piano, keys) and Whittemore (voice, guitars) still head up the business of songs, writing all compositions and lyric content before introductions to the rest of the band. The two leads sing on each other’s contributions more, often creating a unified voice, breaking down obvious notions of which songwriter is responsible for which tune. The dead-on rhythm section is still helmed by Jason Merculief (Sera Cahoone, J. Tillman) on drums and Don McGreevy (Earth, Master Musicians of Bukkake) on bass and percussion. Resident live player Bill Patton (pedal steel, guitar) was brought into the fold, as was an auxiliary cast of Seattle musicians to round out Eyvind Kang’s tasteful string and woodwind arrangements.

There is an evolution afoot, as Meridians is steeped with confident economy and poignancy. Compared to songs on Spine to Sea, tempos of some songs have quickened, compositions have compressed into songs with shorter lengths, and while the spacious terrain has a dreamlike quality similar to The Stares’ debut, immediacy and focus are taking a shine. Meridians is a record for listeners who value strong songwriting, quality recording, the melding of simple and complex composition, dynamic melodicism, clarity of voice, and a touch of ambiguity. Feel free to chew on this for a while; 2015 is half a decade away.

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