Category: stellastarr

Stellastarr* – Harmonies for the Haunted

ARTIST: Stellastarr*

TITLE: Harmonies for the Haunted

YEAR RELEASED: 2005

CHART ACTION: #12 Heatseeker

SINGLES: Sweet Troubled Soul (#37 Dance)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: None

LINEUP: Arthur Kremer, Shawn Christensen, Amanda Tannen, Michael Jurin

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album from NY band finds them in a more dance-oriented mood rhythmically, but still has a foot into the alt-rock scene.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Perhaps taking a nod from the trends in NYC happening at the time (with Interpol and the Rapture), Stellastarr moved themselves toward a dance-oriented rhythm, while still blasting guitars out to the fore, and singer Shawn Christensen still over-singing a bit. His enunciation on the pre-chorus to “The Diver” is cringe-worthy for sure.

What this album has is “Sweet Troubled Soul”, an all-timer of a track and head-and-shoulders above everything on this record. The other tracks are OK, but without that track the album would just be a trend-hopping exercise by a band that never really knew what it wanted to be anyway.

Still, “Sweet Troubled Soul” is worthwhile and the other tracks are decent enough to keep. So, one track saves the day.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This album was first issued with the blasted Media Max software that kept legit buyers from ripping a copy for their iPod.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but the copies streaming now don’t have the hidden track. So an anti-deluxe?

GRADE B+: It’s really a regression with one track pumping the grade up two notches.

Stellastarr – Stellastarr

ARTIST: Stellastarr          Stellastarr_Stellastarr

TITLE: Stellastarr

YEAR RELEASED: 2003

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: Somewhere Across Forever, Jenny, My Coco

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Shawn Christensen, Amanda Tannen, Michael Jurin, Arthur Kremer

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: NYC based band meshes a lot of influences into something that’s not quite original, but enjoyable.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Some good riffs, backing vocals by a female bassist, and a frontman that has a quirky shouty singing voice. It may be a little Column A and Column B, but it’s still enjoyable.

Shawn Christensen’s voice can be overbearing at times (he’s not subtle, but not outrageous), and he and Michael Jurin do a good job in making guitar sounds. They bounce from the 80’s to the 90’s in style, so they’re not breaking new ground here. And even if you don’t quite remember “Jenny”, you definitely recognize the motif. “My Coco” even has a little bit of Low in it at the beginning before it moves to an 80’s alt-rock style.

Some of their songwriting here is just average, and they don’t really slow down well. Still, it was a decent debut and one to re-visit if you missed it the first time.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Christensen, Tannen and Kremer met at Pratt Institute and had a band that dissolved upon graduation, but later added Jurin and formed Stellastar.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

 GRADE B+: Pleasantly cromulent 80’s and 90’s alt rock nostalgia.