Stone Iris - IlluminationsStone Iris’ new EP, “Illuminations,” is not bad.

“Why, Jason, that’s a funny way to start a review,” you say.  And you’re right. Of the problems I have with this EP, I still can’t say that it’s bad. The musicians are talented, the production’s great, it’s just…

OK. When I was in College, there were those guys. You know the ones…they were white dudes, but they had dreadlocks. They wore hemp clothing. They played hacky-sack. And they usually smelled like pot. Not that I’m judging.

Anyway, this album sounds exactly like something they would have listened to back then in the mid-90s. Which leads me to my first problem: 1) it sounds exactly like something that has come out of the 90s college scene. Nostalgia’s a good thing, but it’s an era/type of music that I never found very interesting. In my college days, I was listening to Radiohead and Nirvana. I wasn’t interested in that reggae-inspired stuff, or that blues-rock stuff that was only slightly bluesy.

This leads to the second problem: 2) On this EP, Stone Iris sound like they don’t know who they want to be. ‘Hide and Seek’ is kind of bland pop-rock, while ‘Blood Clot Sunrise’ has a strong reggae thing going on.  ‘Wicked Start’ kind of has contemporary pop-rock thing going on except when it sounds kind of 80s, or when it sounds very late 90s. On ‘Palm Bay Blues’, they go for a Latin sound,  and ‘New End’ is straight 90s post-grunge. However, it fails to gel as a solid release. It really feels like five separate bands.

My final problem is this: 3) It’s just not very interesting. Like I said, they really fail to find their sound, which makes it hard to remember what they sound like after the music stops.  They really are talented musicians, and if they did a reggae album, or a Latin album, or even a generic rock album, I feel like they would at least be memorable.

That said, I’d be willing to give them another chance when their next release comes out. While it may not have been interesting, it was pretty inoffensive.  And if you still rock your hempen hoodie, maybe this is your thing. It’s just not mine.

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