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Andy Stochansky
FIVE STAR MOTEL
(PRIVATE MUSIC/RCA)

Stars graphics

On his major-label debut, Canadian singer-songwriter Andy Stochansky, who used to be Ani Difrancoís drummer, borrows liberally from the Jeff Buckley school of high-pitched and emotive alterna-pop. Itís terrain that should also be familiar to fans of Travis and Coldplay, who employ similarly quivery falsettos and moody soundscapes to make their point.

Stochansky salts his melodic songcraft with just enough irony to ensure that Five Star Motel works as more than just background music for depressive art majors and Felicity fans. He finds something to say about topics ranging from gay offspring ("Miss USA") to wistful office workers ("Paris") to thwarted romance ("22 Steps," "Everest," and "Clay Pigeon"). And he does so without being precious. Despite its vaguely ambient air and some baroque touches (a glockenspiel here, an orchestral flourish there), the disc is a spare, economical outing filled with mid-tempo ballads. The exception, a punchy (and surprisingly conventional) first single called "Wonderful (Itís Superman)," is the albumís true keeper, a hook-filled, up-tempo rocker so catchy, you canít help wishing Motel had more moments like it.

BY ALLISON STEWART

Issue Date: September 19 - 26, 2002
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