Every once in a while, I discover a new band and am impressed by their talent. After listening to their major-label debut album, Stage has become one of those discoveries. Their self-titled effort is an outstanding blend of melodic alternative rock and chilling electric ballads. Stage has managed to make their production unique, and they set themselves apart from the recent trend of formulaic popular rock music.

Stage may be familiar to those who saw them open for Eve 6 this summer or those who live in Long Island, where they are based. Stage has been making music since 1995 – when they were 16 years old – but had trouble finding a label because of their age, according to their Web site. Now that they are signed, however, they appear poised to move on to a more widespread audience.

This record not only showcases the musical talent of the band but also their ability to produce a collection that is both diverse and poetic. This becomes clear right from the opening track, “The World Has Come Between Us,” which is a hard yet emotional song about lost love. Lead singer Ryan Stahr showcases his vocal talent on some of the slower songs, such as “Live Happy, Live with Anorexia” and “Flag.” Stahr’s vocals, on these tracks especially, sound like an eerie blend of Eddie Vedder, Dave Matthews and Chad Kroeger.

The musical arc of the album starts with high energy, faster songs and progresses to the slower, deeply emotional and moving ones. The last two tracks clock in at about 11 minutes each, a length that is almost unheard of in today’s rock scene. However, both songs, especially “The Scientist’s Canvas,” are strong enough to be worth listening to for that long. The band prides themselves on producing such “sprawling soundscapes” – from the Web site – and showing how progress can be worthwhile, like the lyrical evolution on this collection.

This first offering by Stage is excellent, and is both varied and compelling. I would recommend this album for anyone who enjoys alternative rock and is looking for a CD that is more than a bunch of songs that sound the same, but a true expression of musical talent. For more information on Stage, visit their Web site, www.stage.net.

Rodano can be reached at mrodano@campustimes.org.

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