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Hero Hill November 17th, 2006
Claiming to be influenced by and compared to a great band is a bitter double edge sword. Sure, people who are into that band will give you a listen, but more often than not they will be waited on baited breath to tell you why your band fails to live up to expectation.
Why would I bother telling you what you already know? Well, when I stumbled upon the new Saturna EP – All Night - and heard the names Jesus and Mary Chain, Slowdive, Ride, BMRC, and Spiritualized tossed around, I wondered where this band stood. Would they just be dropping names to get some attention, or would they deliver the goods?
After a few notes of the beautiful opening track, Springboard, it’s quite obvious that this trio understands the good things all of the aforementioned bands brought to the table. This style of music is usually just called obscure terms like shoegaze or space-rock, but in reality what this band does is write beautiful slow building tracks that use fuzzed out guitars, well placed breakdowns, cowbell, and feature, but don't rely on Ryan Carroll’s great vocal parts. From the first 30 seconds, the band builds up a melodic wall of sound so slowly that you don’t even notice the aural assault until you are already hooked.
This band has the right influences, but judging them on who they like is not fair. The driving, yet surprisingly pop oriented sounds of Pop Rocks, the looping goodness (on the guitars and vocal lines) and vibrating bass line of the EP closer (Chasing the Unpredictable), the ambient textures of the aptly named Blanket of Stars; obviously this EP has lots of highlights. Ironically, the one song that I wasn't sold on, Just for Thrills is the song the band is using as the single.
Sure you can enjoy the fact they like great bands, but you should take notice that they are well on their way to becoming one as well.
God Is In The TV October 15th, 2006
Portland, Oregon three-piece Saturna are here to fill the hole left by a dearth of spacey, slick American rock, with only an underwhelming Secret Machines album surfacing this year. Their 5-track EP ‘All Night’ is dense and aesthetically beautiful work, each track featuring multiple layers of fine guitar work. It gives each of the tracks a distinctive shoeglaze, despite their varying influences and styles. Most successful of their experiments are the more understated tracks, like the gorgeous instrumental opener 'Springboard', which climaxes in a glorious explosion of noise worthy of Mogwai. Clearly choosing to bookend the EP with their finest sonic explorations, closer 'Chasing The Unpredictable' reprises the quiet-loud formula, this time in the form of a subtle but powerful ballad, unleashing their true potential.
Sandwiched between these are the band's poppier songs, with 'Pop Rocks' finding the band demonstrating their ability to write a catchy, radio-friendly chorus, and the sublime 'Blanket Of Stars' burning slowly but dramatically into a solo-laden epic. 'Blanket Of Guitars' might have been a more apt title given its beautiful production. The EP's only slight weakness is 'Just For Thrills' which, despite an authentic Courtney Taylor-Taylor impression, doesn't quite hit the mark like the EP's other, subtler songs. It does still, however, have the same impressive production and booming guitars which will no doubt become their trademark. If these songs are an indication of what Saturna can do now, I'm just waiting to see what else they have up their sleeves.
Obscure Sound September 1st, 2006
Saturna is another band embracing the elusive genre of shoegaze, except they actually pull it off. From Oregon, Saturna has three members who each lend equally graceful parts, with Ryan Carroll’s spacey vocals and Eric Block’s tantalizing guitar corresponding to each other while Steve Anderson handles the entire rhythm section of drums and bass. ‘Blanket of Stars’ focuses much on the blend of Carroll’s impressive vocal length and Anderson’s tight and diverse drumming ability, while ‘Springboard’ showcases Block’s contributions while contending to be a mixture of several influences. Echos of Spiritualized can be heard during the first few instrumental minutes, and when the faint high backing vocals hit in, My Bloody Valentine is an obvious mentor to refer to. I recommend their impressive debut EP …All Night. Check their site out for more.
The Spacelab August 3rd, 2006
Saturna are a space-rock trio from Portland, Oregon. Unless you live in the Pacific Northwest or have made the pilgrimage to the Shoegazer’s Ball it is unlikely you have had a chance to see or hear them. All Night, their new EP, is an accomplished record that portents to wider exposure for this promising band. Fans of their first release, the Gamma Ray Afterglow single, will find this new release to have been well worth the wait.
The song-building is remarkably sure as they patiently wait to pull all the stops out till they’ve got you right where they want you. The first song, Springboard, features understated, dissonant coils of space guitar effects and reverb laden vocal harmonies that would make Robin Guthrie and Elizabeth Frazier proud. If Ride and Slowdive got together to make a record it would sound like this. Hazy, gauzy, atmospheric, or as Spiritualized® once said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in space.”
The balance of lush harmonies, ambient interludes, straight up rockers and subtle washes and waves of guitar noise is just right, reflecting an uncanny musical intelligence and discipline. Even the vocals, as good as they are, are not allowed to dominate at any point. Instead the vocals are an equal part, with the other instruments, of the ensemble, creating an organic fabric of sound that is somehow both constant and incredibly varied.
The arrangements are intelligently and intricately done, making each song unique from the others and demonstrating the impressive range of skills this band possesses. On All Night this band shows the ability to do so many things well, from creating evocative moods and atmospheres in their soundscapes to vocal harmonies that are achingly beautiful. Their songs utilize effects and techniques of great shoegazer bands before them, but each track is somehow both composed and spontaneous.
Saturna is, Steve Anderson, Ryan Carroll, and Eric Block. Call it shoegazer, call it dream pop, call it space-rock. These guys know exactly what they’re doing on this record. The result is five tracks that take you to bliss-rock places you’ll want to return to again and again.
Marathon Packs (blog) July 15th, 2006
Portland's Saturna isn't quite as slick and urbane as their EP's cover photo would have you believe. That would be quite a task. Okay, they're slick. And pretty urbane, too. And they pile the drama higher than that skyscraper. But when, on EP-ender and reluctant pounder (again with the last song!) "Chasing the Unpredictable" they echo the holy hell out of the vocals and guitars, and use that one bass they have with rubber bands instead of bass strings, well, I'm not made of stone here, folks. It's Jesus and Mary Chain for the late-night after-hours set.
Exitfare (blog) July 11th, 2006
Dany Sloan of the Planetary Group writes, "Portland group Saturna remembers why British music was so good 15 years ago. They haven't forgotten about the etheral vocals of the Cocteau Twins or the fuzzed out guitars of My Bloody Valentine. As much as I love dance punk and all of its offshoots, it's refreshing to hear a group that reminds me of some of the great stuff I'd hear on 120 Minutes during the '90s. The band's infectious debut EP is out now."
The DIY Rockstar July 6th, 2006
On a typical day, I get about 5-6 emails from bands, publicists, etc. on each of my two email addresses. While I like a good portion of it, a lot of the time it can blur into dime-a-dozen indie rock bland-ness. This is not the case with Saturna.
The Portland band has a very strong and well-developed sound to be just now coming out with a debut. It is shoegaze-y while being accessible to the average listener, and is addictive.
A Plague of Angels (Blog) June 26th, 2006
Saturna is a Portland, Oregon three-piece who list Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, the Jesus and Mary Chain, the Dandy Warhols, and Catherine Wheel as some of their influences. Indeed, you can get a pretty good idea of the sonic range of the band from the two songs below. Both appear on their debut EP ...All Night, which will be out July 11 (though you can buy it from CD Baby right now).
Willamette Week, September 1, 2005
Local shoegaze fetishists Saturna . . . pull off the superhuman feat of merging Beach Boys harmonies with the Jesus and Mary Chain's fuzz-drone.