What do you get if you cross Interpol with a smattering of Rival Schools and throw in a dash of The Cure, then make the whole lot more cheerful than any of them? Apart from a really big band, you'd probably have something which sounded a bit like Stellastarr*, or at least their debut self-titled album which was released in 2003. The band formed in March of 2000 in New York (surprise surprise) and although I haven't heard how they came up with they name, I have been told that Stella Star was actually the name of the lead in the 1979 sci-fi flick Starcrash (played by Caroline Munro in case you happened to be wondering). The band's lineup currently consists of:
- Shawn Christensen - lyrics, vocals, guitar
- Amanda Tannen - bass, vocals
- Arthur Kremer - percussion, keyboards
- Michael Jurin - guitar, vocals
You may notice that the bassist and backing vocalist is a girl, which actually provides a pleasant offset to the frontman's singing in most of the tracks, not to mention serving to lighten the mood on a few of them. So far they have only released the one album, with the following tracks:
- In The Walls
- A Million Reasons
- My Coco
- No Weather
- Somewhere Across Forever
- Pulp Song
Although receiving a fair amount of air play on the music channels, In The Walls was never actually released as a single. They did, however release Jenny, Somewhere Across Forever and, apparently as of March 1 (in the US at least), My Coco.
There is actually quite a mixture of moods on this album. While some tracks are light and breezy summertime songs, others are slow and sad, while yet others border on strangely dark. All of them are infused with an obvious energy which lifts the album above a lot of their contemporaries, many of whom sadly get more chart recognition.
As for their sound, as mentioned at the outset, they do sound influenced by Interpol, particularly the vocalist, and they manage to mix in the sweeping, airy sound of Rival Schools with a few hooks and sounds reminiscent of The Cure; the trouble is, in my opinion, Stellastarr* aren't quite as good as any of them. Don't get me wrong, I like this album a lot, and hopefully the next one will be better and thus deserve to sit in the ranks with the others there, but for now it just doesn't quite cut it. Perhaps this is just me expecting too much from a debut album, having been spoiled by the others, but either way it by no means makes it a bad album, and I'd recommend going out and buying it right now.
If you're more patient and/or sensible than me and want to try before you buy, go to the web site at www.stellastarr.com and you will be confronted by a nice flash screen where you can play tracks from the album.
PS Please feel free to make C++ jokes about pointers here