When Elliott Smith died, his place in rock history was solidified, and bands like Star Bag will do nothing if not carry on the musical ideas that he left behind. Sure, it's a little bit wrong to bring up Smith's name in such a way, considering that Star Bag's record was out several months before his demise, yet listening to this El Paso band's debut now, it's hard not to think of Elliott. Clint Myers, Star Bag's leader, is not a mere Elliott Smith imitator. In fact, I guess he doesn't really sound all that much like Elliott Smith, except for "I Just Can't Wait" and "Take it From Here;" if anything, it just goes to show how much of an influence Smith was.
Luckily, Myers takes his songs one place Smith never did: outer space. On songs such as "Everyone Is On The Moon" and "My Big Secret," Myers uses feedback, drone and atmosphere, and he gives his songs an extra depth other indie-folkies have yet to achieve. At the same time, Myers also has a firm foot in traditional country/folk; songs like "I'm So Tired" and "My Way Back Home" help to put Myers clearly in the alt.country genre. Too bad, though, because while he's good at that style, these songs don't stand out like the other, spacier numbers; in fact, some of them border on a poor parody of what some people think country music is supposed to sound like. Don't get me wrong, these songs are still of a higher standard than most, and it's clear that he's as influenced by the dusty streets of El Paso as he is the open skies of the desert.
While Star Bag might not be that spectacular right now--I get a "been there, heard that" feeling from time to time--I'm sufficiently impressed enough not to instantly write Myers off just yet. Give him some time, and I'm sure that he'll refine his sound and his style, and his next record will hopefully lose some of the weaker moments found here. Maybe he'll get lost in the drone and atmospheres found here and will produce something truly wonderful. Whatever the case, I will be listening.