Starlight, Starbright

In 2002, Taking Back Sunday, a little-known band from Long Island, broke into the music scene with their first album Tell All Your Friends (Victory Records). Since the album’s release, the band coursed its way along the Billboard Music chart, claiming a spot every week for two years straight. But just when it seemed like Taking Back Sunday had cemented a place in the Emo-rock scene, the band’s stronger half – Shaun Cooper and John Nolan – departed.

“Leaving Taking Back Sunday was just something we felt like we had to do,” Cooper said. “(John and I) were unhappy with what we were doing.”

In April 2003, the duo regrouped with a new strategy – leave all that they had been musically known for behind to follow a path less traveled, for them at least.

The path led them to abandon their former Emo-angst-ridden ballads for what the band described as “a more laid back sound.” After a couple months of songwriting, they’ve recruited drummer Will Noon (from the band Breaking Pangae) and Nolan’s sister, Michelle, who had been songwriting for years. With the new lineup in place, the band decided to go with the name Starlight Run, which they took from the science fiction novel “Neuromancer.” Their self-titled debut album (Victory Records) was released in October 2004.

Cooper said the band’s sound came naturally and doesn’t sound contrived, describing it as more piano-based and mellow with “a lot less screaming.” It is noticeably more melancholy and less cluttered by percussion and bass reverberations.

With an increased emphasis on piano, Michelle Nolan has become an important addition to the band. Her talent on the keyboard is showcased all throughout the album, particularly on “Existentialism on Prom Night.”

Citing everyone from The Beatles to Radiohead as musical influences, it is hard to find a particular band that encapsulates everything that is Starlight Run. While their ballads are introspective and moving, they are not quite Emo; while their songs are likable and catchy, they are not quite pop.

“We put a lot of energy into our shows, and just go up there and have a lot of fun,” Cooper said. Although they’ve played the 9:30 Club many times, he promises that “it’s definitively going to be an energetic, fun time.”

Starlight Run opens for Something Corporate Thursday at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. The show is sold out.

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