Nasty Little Thoughts

Stroke 9

Cherry Entertainment / Universal Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


In an imperfect world, a group like Stroke 9 would be brushed off as an alternative wanna-be. And being an imperfect person, I almost made that mistake with this group's debut album Nasty Little Thoughts. This review was supposed to run four days ago.

But something intervened - namely, something about this album that nagged at me, and pulled me back in for another listen... and then another... and then another. Before I knew it, I was hooked - and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that this is how it all was planned all along.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The band - vocalist/guitarist Luke Esterkyn, lead guitarist/vocalist John McDermott, bassist Greg Gueldner and drummer Eric Stock - reminds me a lot of groups like Third Eye Blind, with the musical harmony and the alternative edge to the music. There's one major difference, though, between Stroke 9 and Third Eye Blind: Stroke 9 is interesting.

What intrigues me about Stroke 9 is how they're able to dance from tempo to tempo on songs like "Little Black Backpack," making it all sound so effortless. These shifts in style are what not only emphasize certain points in the song, but they also seal the deal for me.

Nasty Little Thoughts succeeds by creating just the right balance of alternative and modern rock, resulting in a sound unique to Stroke 9... yet familiar enough to hook you in for repeat listens. Songs like "Letters," "Washin' & Wonderin'," "Make It Last" and "Not Nothin'" all have that magical fishing line that will have you, before you're even aware of it, listening to these tracks repeatedly.

That isn't to say that everything on Nasty Little Thoughts succeeds, but at least Stroke 9 goes down swinging on these few miscues. Tracks like "City Life," "Are You In This?" and "Angels" just don't succeed on the same levels as the excellent tracks, but you can hear that the band was at least trying on these numbers.

Two questions still remain in my mind. First, are people going to be willing to give an album like Nasty Little Thoughts more than one listen in order to truly appreciate what this band has to offer? Second, will they be able to pick Stroke 9 out of an already crowded field on the airwaves? Somehow, I keep coming back to the same answer to both questions - "yes".

Nasty Little Thoughts is not an album that you'll warm up to instantly, but if you have nearly the same reaction I did, you'll wonder why you keep getting drawn back to this disc. Before you know it, you'll discover that Stroke 9 is one of the best new bands on the block today.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Cherry Entertainment / Universal Records, and is used for informational purposes only.