Friday, February 10, 2006

An Article That Isn't About The DFA: Stellastarr*

Calum Marsh

Much to my surprise, there are actually artists producing music wholly independently of DFA Records, and many of them are really, really good. I was just skimming through my iTunes library, stewing over an interesting blog-topic, when I realized that Stellastarr* - a consistently intruiging and frequently good art-rock group not unlike indie darlings Interpol - are really not getting the kind of attention they deserve. Well, writing for Mocking Music affords me the power of being able to make or break indie acts on the verge of success; the utterance of a single word, be it positive or negative, may ultimately determine an artist's fate. So take note: Stellastarr* is excellent as of this very moment - I suggest you get interested now, before I change my mind.

Anyway, on to Stellastarr*: they've been around for a little while now, and with two acclaimed LPs under their belt, I wouldn't be surprised if you're already quite familiar with their stuff. If not, no worries - they haven't really had a big 'break' (no song on The O.C. or praise from Pitchfork), and for some reason people just don't talk about them much. Music blogs tend to rave about very specific types of artists: ones who are fairly talented and produce pretty good music (but not Sufjan or Arcade Fire good), and who are more obscure than indie-greats because music critics are too busy with the very best groups to notice. Stellastarr* fit the description, so it's strange, then, that the group seems to get neglected by bloggers. Without critical backing (they get decent reviews, but the often get labelled as "having potential", which basically translates to "they're not yet worth hearing"), or indie blog buzz, Stellastarr* don't have anything to get people excited. This is really too bad, because the music is catchy enough that it only takes one listen to hook people in. They may not be the best group around (those albums definitely aren't perfect), but it's worth hearing more than once.

As for their sound, the only comparisson that ever gets made (and oh boy, it gets made a hell of a lot) is to Interpol, mostly because both play dark, moody indie rock that's rich with atmosphere (and they're both NYC art-school folk). The similarities end there, though, so it's strange that it's continually affirmed. Whereas Interpol's lyrics are poetic (nonsensical?) and mesmerizing, Stellastarr* typically opts to write things with more understandable metaphors and clever quips ("and when you're naked in the dark/ I want to see your face in the reflection of my bedroom stereo"); if that sounds lame, it's because the effect is completely lost without the particular nuances of lead singer Christensen's incredible vocals. His voice is something of an oddity, completely indescribable in words, and is the key to Stellastarr*'s charm and intriuge.

It's the kind of music you can only listen to at night, preferably over some light drinks and in the company of good friends. It's dark, dramatic, not overly challenging; it's everything I like in a group, and they throw in enough originality and charm to make up for indie rock's usual shortcomings. I'm not going to lie to you, it's not perfect - I'd take Interpol any day - but until those boys crank out another LP, I'll be comfortable sipping my vodka martini to the sound of a Stellastarr* record.

Stellastarr* - Damn This Foolish Heart
Stellastarr* - Pulp Song
Stellastarr* - My Coco
Stellastarr* - Lost In Time
Stellastarr* - Sweet Troubled Soul (Remix)
The Rapture - Silent Morning (sorry, couldn't resist)

Stellastarr* - Harmonies For The Haunted
Stellastarr* - Self-Titled

Comments on "An Article That Isn't About The DFA: Stellastarr*"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10/2/06 7:25 pm) : 

This band is so damn good. I just hope they stay together long enough to become huge.


Blogger kalliope said ... (11/2/06 6:40 am) : 

Honestly i dont really know what to say about this band................
only that his voice is - for my "needs" - too disturbing to really think about. I mean he shows he can do differently in the refrains, but.... just no. it sounds a little like "brought to you by adhd" or so?

Just my 2c :)




Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11/2/06 11:41 pm) : 

Their latest CD was sunk by the infamous Sony/RCA/BMG/MediaMax copy protection scandal ( and the resulting lawsuits.

I used to love this band, but will never purchase or support a group that allows spyware/copy protection on their cd's. I'll spend my money on more fan-friendly bands.


Blogger Calum Marsh said ... (12/2/06 2:32 am) : 

That was a real pain in the ass. That's why I stick to vinyl!


Blogger Casey Dorrell said ... (12/2/06 3:33 am) : 

Indie kids . . .


Blogger eush said ... (14/2/06 11:04 pm) : 

If I remember correctly, the lead singer (Shawn Christensen? Forgive me if I've mangled it) put up a post on the official website on how to disable the copy-protection on their new album.

I bought my copy of their latest album from iTunes, even though I'd much preferred a CD, because I fell in love with 'Sweet Troubled Soul' the moment I heard it and had to have it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (19/2/06 10:32 pm) : 

Um...sorry, was just reading this and had to leave a comment in response to the whole spyware thing. Yes, indeed, Shawn posted a big long message on the band's message board about how they fought against their record label to keep the copy protection off their CD's, but eventually lost in terms of the first shipment. Not only did he post detailed directions on how to get around the copy protection, he also later announced that the second batch of albums would not have it on them at all, due to their finally having won out over their label. Please don't blame them for wasn't their fault, wasn't how they wanted it, had nothing to do with them, etc. They're a great band, only getting better, and they need your continued support!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (24/3/09 5:41 am) : 

Do you know the maple mesos? It is very interesting and if you have enough mesos,you can be strong. So i often go to play the game to get more and more cheap mesos, sometimes i can get the maplestory mesos from my friends who i know in the game. However i like the game very much because of the maple story mesos, i want to play the game more often.


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