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*** Eight months in the making, The Stares’ Spine to Sea is nothing less than a devastating, harmonically rich and uncompromising work of somber realism. No one who hears this CD will walk away from it untouched. The Stares are an easy obsession to acquire. The voices of songwriters Angie Benintendi and Drew Whittemore fixate on some distant invisible expanse, treading so slowly, so beautifully, through landscapes familiar, but sprinkled with some kind of heavy magical realism that just can’t be described. “Americana” maybe, but with roots so deep in the earth that there’s no geography that could ever really contain them. These songs simply rise up out of themselves. Wherever they come from, you cannot help but be drawn into their shadowy landscape. There’s no question: your first encounter with this music will be one you’ll remember. Forever. From Seattle, the Stares are a four-piece with aforementioned vocalists/songwriters Whittemore and Benintendi on guitar and electric piano/keyboards respectively, and Don McGreevy on bass and Jason Merculief on drums. This ensemble is filled out with string and woodwind arrangements by Eyvind Kang, who authored along similar lines for the latest Blonde Redhead CD. As great as that was, he absolutely outdid himself on Spine To Sea. The album is supported further by an auxiliary team of various Seattle music legends herded under the Stares roof by Randall Dunn, the record’s production wizard. The end result is so rewarding we’re having a hard time containing ourselves. “To say their sound is a rare find in this town is a laughable understatement.” Jeff Rush, Tablet