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on October 2, 2001
Some albums are great albums, full of wonderful songs. Some albums reek to high heavens. A very select few albums are works of art. Although it may sound pretentious, Leave Here A Stranger by Starflyer59 is definitely in the latter category. From the very first spin, something about the flow, the cohesiveness of the songs and how they interact with each other makes you realize that SF59 had high aspirations for this album and that they hit their mark perfectly. While listening to this disc I am reminded at times of the landmark OK Computer, early The Cure, and Pet Sounds, lofty sources of inspiration indeed. In a conscious effort to strip down their sound, SF59 recorded the album in glorious mono, forcing themselves to distill their vision into a potent concentrate. Much like Pet Sounds, there is an amazing breadth of instrumentation including harps, saxophones, strings, timpani and more. The fact that such lush orchestrations do not cloud the songs is a tribute to all involved. As with past SF59 efforts, there is a great bit of creative use of noise and heavily reverbed guitar alongside Jason Martin's trademark wispy vocals not unlike those of Radiohead's Thom York. The songs are low-key and atmospheric yet filled with haunting melodies and arrangements. For lyrical inspiration, the band looked to their immediate world. The opening track, "All My Friends Who Play Guitar" cascades a wash of sound like the waves on a beach as Martin sings about a life spent on the road. The chorus of "Can You Play Drums?" has Martin lamenting that "I already know what we're gonna play" and in "Things Like This Help Me" he "stays up late [to] fix all the sounds." For this musical brew, all influences are fair game including The Smiths ("Give Up the War") and Roy Orbison ("Night Music"), although like the best cooks, the ingredients are combined to create a completely new dish with only hints of the original sources. My personal favorite is "I Like Your Photographs", a mesmerizing epic of a song whose topic still eludes me. The six minutes of this song are a well-written novel with chapters that flow effortlessly into each other. This beautifully lonely indie-pop masterpiece will appeal to fans of Radiohead, Belle & Sebastian, and The Smiths and is sure to send shivers of delight down your wicked spine.
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on June 22, 2012
I randomly stumbled upon this album after reading a review for a different band on Amazon and decided to give it a chance though I'd never heard of Starflyer 59. 10 years and 10+ albums later, I'm so thankful that I happened to discover this album.

It's pretty amazing this band doesn't have a bigger following when you start listening to their full body of work and see the consistently good songwriting on every album, even as the styles may change. Everything Starflyer has put out has been quality and virtually all of their albums rank as some of my favorites at this point, but whether it was the fact that it was the first one I heard, or it's just that good (I suspect the latter), this is still my favorite album of theirs.

There is a shimmering/dreamlike quality to this album that is mesmorizing. It's a complete album as well that you can listen to all the way through without skipping any tracks, and since it's a concept album of sorts that's the best way to hear it. If you're new to Starflyer 59 this is a great place to start!
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on June 5, 2001
Starflyer 59 could have reached the point where they just might be musically bored. Fortunately, for the music fans Starflyer 59 keep producing quality albums and "Leave Here a Stranger" displays the band's best work to date. This is quite an accomplishment considering that Starflyer already has quite an impressive resume. On LHAS, the band explores the experimental sounds that it had been tinkering with on the "Fahion Focus" and "Everybody makes Mistakes". The difference is that LHAS flows so well it sounds like the masterpiece that Jason Martin and company went searching for. Or were they searching at all? Jason's vocals seem a little bolder and the music has never sounded better. The album was recorded in mono much like the Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" and LHAS displays the best music Starflyer 59 has produced. Jason sings "I already know what were going to play" on the track "Can you play drums?" but on LHAS you'll get the idea that you have no idea what Starflyer 59 might play next. The songs are brillant on this album and finally just maybe Starflyer 59 left as a stranger.
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on November 4, 2001
Starflyer 59 is, and always will be, my favorite band of all time. In a world where Britney Spears reigns supreme and girls fling themselves at N'Sync, there still is some hope as long as Starflyer is around. With them, there is no glamour. There's no "oh, this sounds cool"; you know it's cool the minute you hear it. And why is it cool, you may ask? Because Starflyer focuses on making good music, and that only. Every song they make is carefully constructed to its best. They make the kind of songs that you like, finally get used to, then you suddenly discover a neat bass trick or drum beat that you never noticed before.
Their newest album ever, "Leave Here a Stranger," will go down in history (for those who care) as Starflyer 59's masterpiece. Every song flows smoothly into the next, which could be a somewhat problem in some of the band's past efforts. It opens with "All My Friends Who Play Guitar," which is not my favorite song on the album, but a good five-minute song nonetheless. After that, we get the wonderful "Can You Play Drums?" which is one of my favorites. The next three are good, nicely-crafted songs, followed by another ingenious melody, "This I Don't Need" The plucked strings will leave you breathless and sobbing for more. The final four (actually three) tracks are mighty good ones; yesireebob, mighty good. "I Like Your Photographs" is one of the most eeriest songs to ever come from Starflyer, with an "X-Files"-like whistle and a cool marching beat. "Night Music" is exactly that; I'd love to drive downtown in a car with this song coming out of my speakers at midnight. That would be really cool. The last song is another "good" one, like the first, and is a good closing track. I didn't like it that much at first, but it's come to grow on me (as all of Starflyer 59's music eventually does).
Do you thirst for good music? Do you crawl out of bed screaming in agony at the top of your lungs for that melody that you desire? Now you don't have to! Starflyer 59 is here for you. Go buy "Leave Here a Stranger"; it's worth every singly milli-penny you have.
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on June 5, 2001
Starflyer 59 have been heading away from their shoegaze/dream pop roots, favoring a new "poppier" direction for the past several albums. "Leave Here a Stranger" shows the full maturation of that style- there's hardly a distorted guitar to be found, and when the old "wall of sound" does come back, it's supplied by thick synths, organ, piano, xylophone, strings, etc. in addition to SF59's tried-and-true guitar/bass/drums lineup. Jason Martin's vocals are in top form- this album contains some of his most beautiful vocal melodies, and his voice is once again mixed up-front (past albums hid the vocals under the layers of guitars). On songs like "can you play drums?", "this I don't need", and "when I learn to sing", Jason sounds like a long-lost member of the Brian Wilson clan, with lush arrangements, his trademark lazy surf guitar, and gorgeous vocals. There's a definite "Pet Sounds" influence on the record, as well as a bit of that recent Flaming Lips/Mercury Rev/Dave Fridmann vibe, but it still sounds like the next logical step for SF59. This might just be the best album of 2001 so far.
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on December 9, 2013
One of the most underrated bands of all time.
If your not out there aggressively searching for good music,you'll never find it.
You cant count on the radio,you cant count on Mtv,and you cant count on BET either.
If you like this,search their earlier stuff.
I recommend Gold and Silver.
Because their music takes a turn for the worse in later albums.
Dont really know what happens,but I think they lost a singer or started working with a different producer.
Not really sure.All I know is that it killed their sound.
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on February 8, 2006
Leave Here A Stranger is SF59's best album. I believe the late Gene Eugene (Adam Again, Lost Dogs) took SF59 from being good to being great in the late 1990's. His influence on Jason Martin and SF59 is obvious. But his untimely death left the band without a producer. Jason was a life-long fan of Terry Scott Taylor (Daniel Amos, Swirling Eddies, Lost Dogs, solo) and it was only natural for him to be selected. (Terry Scott Taylor is master of rock music and has produced many great albums). His direction and creativeness combined with Jason Martin and the SF59 crew to make what is pretty close to musical perfection. The producer-artist match on this album is probably the most perfect match ever. For one reason or another, they only worked together on this one project. Aaron Sprinkle (Poor Old Lu, solo) picked up production on the album Old and Jason Martin produced Talking Voice vs Singing Voice.
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on March 20, 2007
I do like most of Starflyer's music, but I never thought they were truly "great". This album is truly "great". I liked Jason Martin's choice to put more melody in the music and less distortion. I'm not sure how he does it, but the songs are simultaneously haunting and friendly. You get the impression that this not a depressed person, but also not a naive person either. Well done.
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on June 5, 2001
SF59 has done it again! anothern great album of the starflyer we all know and love. some great sounds not heard used much in their records, if at all, such as strings and a harpsichord. well rounded, well written, well played, well produced. just great!
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on April 2, 2002
first off: i'm exceedingly biased towards starflyer; jason martin could sell a cd of pepsi jingles and i'd still buy it. this particular album is great, though not as great as the last two full-lengths. it follows in the vein of "everybody makes mistakes" to some degree, but the songs don't have quite the edge of that particular outing. don't get me wrong, all of the songs on here are great, but some of them seem to be lacking something...i can't quite put my finger on it though. another bummer about this album is the fact that it is not really a ten song album, the song "...moves on" is a 1:20 transition song that is just "i like your photographs" fading into "night music." some of the lyrics are a bit middle-schoolish--i.e. "when you climbed up in trees/because of kicks in the knees" ("your company").
ok,it is actually an amazing album, it just has a few low points. the high points abound. "can you play drums?" and "i like your photographs" are two of the best songs to be recorded in the last 5 years. "your company" has a child-like innocence about it. a friend of mine swears that the simplistic lyrics are intentional to make the song feel more innocenct...i dont' know about that, though.
though not the strongest album in his catalogue, this is certainly a great effort by mr. martin. and it beats the hell out of most other albums released last year.
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