Album Review

STARRY EYES – ‘Ciao Bella’ [EP] [Album Review]

‘Ciao Bella’ discloses a dark catharsis, transported on heavy layers of ’90s grunge, accentuated by the stirring voice of Kyle Tekiela.



Ciao Bella, the debut EP from SoCal alt-rock outfit STARRY EYES, mirrors tragedy and triumph as well as a two-year journey to bring the EP to fruition. Stream it here.

STARRY EYES evolved from the deep friendship between the founding duo of guitarist John Shippey and drummer Matthew Scoggins. While working on Ciao Bella, the pair searched for the right singer to convey their unique sound. In 2021, they found vocalist and lyricist Kyle Tekiela. Three weeks later, Matt passed away from drug-related causes.

Now, nearly two years after Matt’s death, Ciao Bella is born again.

Kyle explains, “As the title of the EP suggests, ‘Ciao Bella’ is a somber goodbye to the beautiful things in our lives that have passed and a jubilant hello to the beautiful things to come.”

John adds, “These songs are for people who’ve been through some shit — music is our catharsis. Many of the songs on ‘Ciao Bella’ wrestle with the issues of addiction and loss, but we always try to balance the negative with the positive and keep looking toward the future.”

Comprising five tracks, Ciao Bella begins with “Jetlag,” a sardonic song about the Hollywood dream of glamour and glitz. Gleaming, grunge-tinted guitars and an alluring rhythmic flow give the tune a glowing feel as Kyle’s expressive voice imbues the lyrics with a be-careful-what-you-wish-for connotation.

“I wanna die in California / I want a desert funeral / Blow my ashes off a mirror, with a hundred-dollar bill.”

STARRY EYES in 2023, photo by Natalia Zofia

Highlights include “No Show,” with its dirge-laced guitars, revealing tinctures of melancholy. Drifting breakdowns shift the harmonics, fueling the tune with sadness as Kyle’s haunting vocals infuse the lyrics with lingering sensations.

Doused in flavours of punk-lite and emo, “Crush” rides a potent, mid-tempo rhythm topped by grungy guitars surging with viscous energy. Kyle’s raw, aching vocals give the lyrics visceral poignancy. Utilizing a lost-at-sea metaphor, “Crush” relates Kyle’s experience of trying to get his father into rehab.

“These are dark days / I swim but I’m lost in the waves / I wake up so tired / And I cheat ’cause I know that I’m living a lie.”

Ciao Bella discloses a dark catharsis, transported on heavy layers of ’90s grunge, accentuated by the stirring voice of Kyle Tekiela.

Ciao Bella Track Listing:

1. Jetlag
2. Kickin’ Up Dust
3. Over Oceans
4. No Show
5. Crush

Run Time: 21:31
Release Date: May 5, 2023
Record Label: Independent


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