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Count the Stars
NEVER BE TAKEN ALIVE
(VICTORY)

Stars graphics

Like labelmates Taking Back Sunday, Albany emo kids Count the Stars donít let their hardcore pedigree get in the way of their love for mainstream pop. So for every punk background shout on their debut album, thereís a line from a schmaltzy rock-radio standard ó "Feels like the First Time" and "I Donít Want To Miss a Thing" show up in the first 10 minutes alone.

Produced by Dave Cobb, who earned his pop stripes as the guitarist of the Atlanta alterna-rock band the Tender Idols, the disc is as anthemic as it is propulsive. On "Taking It All Back," frontman Chris Kasarjian deals with girl trouble and emerges a stronger man: "This world can swallow you whole, but I can never be taken alive." The band juggle melody and aggression deftly: Kasarjianís gravelly voice keeps things from getting too pop, and their two-guitar interplay is quirkier than average for punks of their sort. They channel Rick Springfield on the glammy "Right Behind Me," and the melancholy Weezerish ballads "Pictures" and "All Good Things" deliver both hooks and catharsis.

BY SEAN RICHARDSON

Issue Date: March 6 - 13, 2003
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