Once again, I am diving deep into the history of Grafton Records. This EP is, what I truly believe, the first release ever by this exceptional indie/emo/post-hardcore label that still operates in Portland, Oregon. Like it or not, nineties emo music was the best thing that could happen to the underground scene at the times when melodic punk rock almost totally went mainstream. Emo music kept everything underground, while the punks tried and ultimately failed to achieve MTV success. Some bands have managed to stay at the top, while others went back underground or disbanded, but the emo music remained intact until the early 2000s. The best part about this story is that Grafton Records avoided the whole MTV success thing and released many brilliant releases during the nineties. This self-titled extended play release by Stella served as a perfect starting point for a label that still operates today.
This material captures the essence of the mid-nineties emo scene. It possesses all the qualities of much bigger bands, could stand beside the essential full-lengths of the genre, and perhaps sounds even better than the most releases produced at the time. Stella knew how to write, compose, and record tunes that would easily resonate with all those curious ears who wanted something more than bland punk rock and hardcore. In 1995, heavier music dominated the charts, metalcore bands explored the progressive side of extreme music, and punk rock bands tried mainstream, but Stella incorporated more indie and post-hardcore in their tracks. Therefore, their sound is calmer, melodic, and abstract but still energetic enough to keep you entertained for a while.
It’s a material that will easily appeal even to those listeners who’re not into emo, indie, and post-hardcore music. This material possesses so many qualities, so if you’re stumbling upon it for the first time, you’ll probably have a hard time picking your favorite tracks. The reason is more than simple and it is because all the tracks sound superb. Wait until you hear excellent lead vocals, flawlessly executed chord progressions, abstract melodies, warm-sounding basslines, and dynamic rhythmic performance that keeps everything together. You’ll instantly fall in love with their music and still wouldn’t believe that the band released this material in 1995. I don’t know if this CD is available for purchase somewhere, but it is always good to ask Grafton Records about it. As far as I know, the EP is available for listening to on YouTube.