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Stellastarr* (self-titled)

Release Date: 09.23.03
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.


Under the Influence (of New Wave)
by: bill aicher

The interesting thing about Stellastarr* is that you'll hear oodles of influences brandied about whenever you get caught in a discussion - or reading a review of their debut. So, I'll get the majority of this out of the way from the beginning in a simple, unordered list of 80s post-punk new-wavers and shoegazers you might find hints of in this record:

The Cure The Pixies Television Talking Heads Joy Division Modern English

I could probably continue the list for quite a bit longer, but if you have at least a reasonable knowledge of your music history, you've already got the picture.

Thankfully, Stellastarr*'s debut comes off as much more than a bunch of new wave influence, making it another of those essential albums for anyone into the modern New York scene. While lead vocalist/guitarist Shawn Christensen and vocalist/bassist Amanda Tannen do seem to quite enjoy the back-and-forth banter made so historic by Frank Black and Kim Deal in The Pixies's heyday, Stellastarr* find themselves more at home with their recent genre revivalists like Interpol, Hot Hot Heat and The Stills (yeah, the last two are Canadian bands... why it's still referred to as the New York sound is starting to disturb me) than their influential counterparts.

There's been quite a bit of a hype machine in motion for Stellastarr* so far, but the barrage is only beginning as they're set to start hitting radio soon. And if songs like the Pixie-esque "Jenny" or the dancey "Coco" end up hitting a few nonbelievers' eardrums, the hype machine will be able to move to autopilot as word-of-mouth takes over. 05-Jan-2003 5:18 PM