Great New Alt Rock Music From The Last Year

Bruce Von Stiers

I have reviewed music from Niki Barr several times. Niki and her band cranked out some great rock music. About three years ago, Niki and fellow band member Scott Ensign took her music in a different direction. Now, instead of being strictly rock, the music would have more of an alt rock flavor to it. With the change in music, Niki also retooled and renamed the band. The band is now called The Last Year. The band released a self-titled EP that was very well received.

This year finds the band with a whole new album. Ahead of the album, the band released a song, Mania, which found its way into heavy rotation on alt rock stations and got listed in a couple of top alt rock music listings.

The new album is titled Static Automatic. It contains seven songs and has a play time of twenty-eight minutes. The album was produced by the band, with Jeff Clum as executive producer.

The lineup of the band is Niki Barr, Scott Ensign, Scott Griffith and BJ Kerwin. Griffith plays guitar, Kerwin is the drummer and Ensign is on bass and synth. Niki provides the vocals.

Mania is the title of the first song. It is an interesting mix of power pop and rock. The verses are moderately paced then the chorus slides into a head bopping power pop mode. Niki's vocals on the song are terrific.

Rush is a too cool piece. Fluid, yet sometimes aching vocals are in front of a slick alt rock sound.

Dark Ages has slick power pop hooks.

Silhouette is a head bopping song that slows down quite a bit for the chorus. It is an intriguing song.

Magic is a slow and endearing song.

Chemical has a cool alt rock groove. It almost brings back the styling of the old rock music that Niki used to write and record.

The title track, Static Automatic, holds the final place on the album. It has a killer alt rock groove. It will make you bop your head and move your feet instantly.

Many artists and bands change direction in their music over time. Some of them are successful in the transition and others not quite so much. As for Niki Barr, she continues to surprise me. I was a big fan of her rock music. I wasn't too sure about the new direction her music was taking. But I really enjoyed the EP that featured the musical change. And with this new album, Niki and the band continue to make their music more viable than ever before. Cool hooks and terrific vocals make this an album well worth listening to.

Static Automatic is available on iTunes and Spotify.

Check out The Last Year official site for additional information. The site is

They also have a band page on Facebook at


Back to the BVS Reviews Main Menu

© 2016 Bruce E Von Stiers