Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Similarly Requested CDs
One of the few times "criminally ignored" really applies.
Zachary B. Schoening | Bethany Beach, DE | 03/10/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"If released today, this album might be a moderate success. Back in 1993, there was little airplay for anything this heavy on mainstream radio. Since Stick lacked the cliched themes of suicide and gore film-style violence, it had no appeal to the niche "Metal" market; Pantera was as "alternative" as most metalheads got back then.To make things worse, the promotional responsibilities for this Lawrence, Kansas band fell into the hands of the folks at Arista -- the very same ones in fact who managed the account of Ace of Base. The most I ever saw in terms of promotional material was an ad in Tower Records' free "Pulse" magazine, with the tagline "It is what it is, 'cause it is what it should be." That may have been the case, but it didn't tell potential listeners a thing about the band or its sound. After one over-produced video that aired maybe once on MTV's "Headbangers' Ball", Stick quietly disappeared off the musical radar screen.So what DOES Stick sound like? Comparisons could be made to Helmet, Korn, and especially Clutch, mainly because Stick employs a similar "drop-D" tuning, giving their instruments a heavier sound, since superseded by today's "Nu metal". The All Music Guide wants to label them "grunge", and I guess that is fairly accurate, even though I've never understood what that term means. It simply serves as a convenient catchall for describing the sound of rock being reborn in the early 90s, with Seattle bands leading the charge. Anyway... the album opener, "Grind", launches with a multiple-octave wall of distorted guitar and doesn't let up from there. "No Groovy" was, I believe, chosen as the first single, which was a mistake -- it's a good song, but the slower tempo is not as immediately enticing as some other tracks. "Stoning" and "Disposable", tracks 3 and 4, are simultaneously the most punishing and the most accessible. Throughout the album, the guitars are heavily layered, the chords are better than run-of the mill (slightly dissonant, but not as jazzy as Helmet), and Darrel Brannock's bass playing is understated, yet adds subtly to the bleak feeling. These guys were more musically creative than the majority of the heavy bands out there today. Stick is angry, intense music that is perfect for "moshing" and requires the volume cranked all the way up.Stick was a racially diverse group, and the lyrics are amazingly socially conscious. These guys are clearly "p.o.ed" (I can say that on Amazon.com, can't I?) at society, particularly big corporations; no doubt BMG, parent of Arista, has since joined their list. "No Groovy" and "Conditional" are full frontal attacks on apathy, "Grind" and "Taught to Lose" are written from the viewpoint of the downtrodden and oppressed, "Zero" is an interesting take on a minority's point of view on American society, and "Fuel" deals with (on one level anyway) alternative energy sources. I can't think of another vocalist to compare to Mark Smirl. He's a bit nasal and doesn't have a huge range, but he stays on key and gets his message across, all without obnoxious screaming. In some ways, he sounds a bit like the lead singer for Paw, another Kansas band. Come to think of it, if you like Paw's "Dragline", you will almost certainly like "Heavy Bag". Sadly not included here is the ultra heavy, anti-racist single "Resistance", found only on 7" vinyl. Pick it up if you can find it; the B-side features a cover of Henry Rollins' "Drinking and Driving".This CD appears to be out of print, and will probably never be reissued. If you can get it used for cheap, I highly recommend it. The members of Stick have formed or joined other bands since the mid-90s, but there is also a rumor that a second album was released independently, apparently titled "Disgruntled X-Employee". I have never seen it anywhere."
Stick's "HEAVY BAG"- and Mark Smirl, etc
D-nomite | CT | 01/04/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I completely agree in most every way with the other review here....Stick's "Heavy Bag" doesn't have a sleeper/bad track on it, and while I do agree that "No Groovy" should not have been their single and intro the masses at the time (it without a doubt(!) should have been "Stoning" (which a band of mine actually covered years back)), it still stands as a solid song nevertheless. All in all, having purchased this cd back on its very release day some 15 years ago (after seeing them open for Overkill in New Haven, CT), I'm still listening to it today, and have even gone so far as to purchase the album in the past off ebay to gift to friends. You can still find it criminally cheap online- used.
I recommend this band without a doubt, and really wish they would have stuck around to have done and written more. I also had a chance to talk to Mark the night I saw his band, and he was beyond friendly and talkative to all of us. They were tight as all hell live too...
Yeah, The other guy's comparisons ain't bad- For fans of: Clutch, Paw, Helmet, and maybe even Alice In Chain, as I always found that Smirl's approach, while not as expansive, had a Layne Staley vibe to it. Great lyrics for the most part, as well- and guitar-wise, talk about power riffs!"