"Livin' The High-Life" (; 2004)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

A while back I was given the opportunity to review the demo release of Chicago-based rockers The Stash? and I liked what I heard even though in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t exactly what I’d pick to spend my free time listen to.

The music on “Living The High-Life” contains all the energy that I can be heard on their demo – and then some. The music is constantly moving forward. In fact, The Stash? rock'n'roll like a drunk frat brother crashing through a door to a fellow brother’s bedroom catching an unsuspecting couple getting hot and heavy. The band’s high-energy approach is a bit messy at times (not sloppy – there’s a difference), but I think The Stash? left things a bit messy on purpose.

Overall, the band has taken their diverse set of styles and pushed in a heavier direction with a little bit more emphasis on the full-blast freakouts. The way I’m thinking is “Living The High-Life” sounds more like Dog Fashion Disco or System Of A Down than the Faith No More reference I made while reviewing their demo. Some surprisingly heavy elements are introduced to the band’s sound including some direct-as-only-death-metal-can-be Cannibal Corpse riffs (check out the hidden track for proof). The band stretches a bit more with the inclusion of more rap-styled vocals and particularly of note is the style sung by 311’s Nick Hexum. Re-recorded versions of a few tracks from the band’s demo are included on “Livin’ The High-Life.” “A Place” remains one of the standout tracks and just when I was beginning to wonder if the band had fully cut out the Alice In Chains styled riffs a few tracks re-instated that feeling (“Impotent Flower” and “Hazed And Born To Lose”). To make things just a little weird Hendrix-like blues get a complete workout on “Formation 69.”

I had previously written that The Stash? had a lot of promise and I say without hesitation that I can hear that promise taking another step forward on “Living The High-Life.”

“Livin’ The High-Life” was produced by The Stash? with recording, mixing, and mastering assistance from Mike Thopmson Steve Spapperi, John Williamson, and Al Ursini.

The Stash?: Chris Shern on lead vocals, Curt Wehrman on guitars and vocals, Chris Teter on bass and backing vocals, and Doug Wehrman on drums.

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"Forms of Stimulation" (Self-produced; 2003)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

The Stash, formed in 1998, have created a set of songs on the self-produced "Forms Of Stimulation" that cut a wide swath through musical earth for a sound that harkens back to the best of bygone genres and still seemingly stays on the brink of something fresh. While not overly complex, The Stash? manages to mix a whole bunch of styles into a musical blender for an interesting concoction that should appeal to a diverse set of music fans.

"Impotent Flower" gives off vibes of Alice In Chains before they forgot how to rock hard while "A Place" displays the band's energy in a direction not unlike classic Faith No More. Other tracks seem like modern versions of grunge spruced up with injections of other musical DNA; for instance, "Off To School" sounds like Green River as though they still existed today. "Hazed And Born To Lose" sounds what Dog Fashion Disco would sound like if they were a funk band instead of circus metal. And if that wasn't interesting enough The Stash? cover Prince’s "Darling Nikki" with a rousing blast of heavy guitars -- it's almost worth the cost of the CD.

I am unable to figure out whether or not the four live tracks consist of material recorded before or after the studio material, but it is woefully under-produced and is extremely difficult to get through even when taking into consideration the band's copious skills and daring sense of adventure.

In the end The Stash? sound like a heavy alt-rock band that is being pulled in many directions and instead of it being aimless and muddy it actually has promise. 

"Forms Of Stimulation" was produced by The Stash?.

The Stash: Chris Shern on vocals, Curt Wehrman on guitars and backing vocals, Chris Teter on bass, and Doug Werhman on drums and percussion.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 11 Sep 2022 13:46:19 -0400.