Starling Electric released the album Clouded Staircase via veteran independent label Bar/None August 19, 2008. It was originally available locally (mostly from the trunks of band members' cars) and drew considerable acclaim in their HOMEBASE of Ann Arbor, Michigan, which helped the band quickly build a loyal intergalactic fan base.
Recorded entirely in bedrooms, basements, closets and bathrooms, ...Clouded Staircase's 18 original tracks represent a call to arms for anyone still interested in melodies, harmonies, and the power of a good pop song. Starling Electric soon caught the attention of Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices, who invited them to open for him on an east coast tour. Soon after, the group was championed by Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies/Big Star) on BBC-6 Radio and their respective websites.
Starling Electric was originally the solo project of singer/songwriter Caleb Dillon; a decade's worth of lineup changes has yielded the dynamic live five-piece of today: Caleb on lead vocals; John Fossum on drums; Christian Blackmore Anderson on bass; Ben Collins on guitar; and Aaron Diehl on guitar and keyboards. Everybody sings. There is much rejoicing.
The group is a melting pot of '60s and '70s influences - the melodic harmonies of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Zombies, and Byrds; the prog and art-rock exploration of Yes, 10cc, Genesis, and Elton John; the baroque craftsmanship of the Left Banke and Love; and the pomposity and swagger of The Who, Queen, and ELO. They've shared bills with Robert Pollard, Evan Dando (The Lemonheads), Saturday Looks Good To Me, The Sights, The Hidden Cameras, Great Lakes Myth Society, The Satin Peaches, and many others. They’ve headlined every major city in their home state of Michigan and toured throughout the east coast.
Starling Electric has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, The Detroit Free Press, and in magazines such as the Detroit Metro Times, Real Detroit Weekly, Lansing City Pulse, and AnnArbor.com. The group has received an impressive amount of airplay on college radio throughout the midwest as well as BBC radio in the UK. SE were voted "Best Rock Artist" by the readers of the Ann Arbor Current and their song "Camp-Fire" was showcased in an episode of the UPN television series, "Veronica Mars". In 2009, the Clouded Staircase track and live staple "Black Ghost/Black Girl" was featured in the soundtrack to the critically-acclaimed film Crossing Over; two years later, they contributed to the soundtrack of writer/director Jake Torem's film Letting Go, winner of Best Romantic Comedy at the Huston Film Festival. "Camp-Fire" was chosen as the theme tune for the 2010 Ann Arbor Film Festival.
Poised for greatness, again(!), Starling Electric has risen from the grave to reclaim their title as The Band You Love To Hate To Love!
"I like Starling Electric."
-Robert Pollard (Guided By Voices)
, Gothamist Interview
"Startling and superlative orchestral pop that reminds me why I fell in love with music in the first place...Clouded Staircase is to my ears one of the best records of the modern age - a bona fide stunner."
-Jon Auer (The Posies / Big Star)
"Clouded Staircase...hits all the right notes - the harmonies, the chiming guitars, the baroque arrangements, the slightly psychedelic twists and turns."
- Joshua Klein, Pitchfork.com
"Starling Electric holds the record together with the quality of its performance - far more intricate and accomplished than the average indie-rock act - and the breadth of its enthusiasm. Listening to this album is a lot like spending a happy afternoon with a group of unpretentious archivists as they pull one discovery after another out of their collections, saying, 'Yes, but have you heard this ?'"
- Noel Murray, AVclub.com
"Rich but uncluttered orchestral pop with reoccurring themes and a few tracks that are crafted of separate but complementary parts, Clouded Staircase shows the influence of The Beach Boys' Smile, especially on "Camp-Fire" as voices dart and build over organ, chimes, bass and banjo. But the album's "Death to Bad Dreams/Black Parade" invokes the Beatles' harmonies, and "She Goes Through Phases" recalls Pink Floyd's..."
- Jim Fusilli, The Wall Street Journal
"The group's sound echoes its love of melodic '60s and '70s pop and art rock, but behind that paisley pulse are several forward-thinking multi-instrumentalists who are just as comfortable launching an air-raid siren of post-rock feedback as they are in re-creating Pet Sounds."
- James Christopher Monger, AllMusic.com
Howard Wuelfing at Howlin’ Wuelf Media