By: Ginny Yang
Harmonies for the Haunted, the sophomore effort from stellastarr*, combines the dark swagger of Joy Division, the Britpop moodiness of Pulp, and the melodic pop hooks of the Pixies. Frontman Shawn Christensen’s commanding vocals, which are coincidentally similar to those of Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, describe tragic tales of heartache and yearning gleaned from seemingly vast experiences with tumultuous relationships. From the soaring melodies of “Damn This Foolish Heart” to the soulful urgency of “Sweet Troubled Soul,” the album paints vivid pictures of late-night conversations and longing glances shared between boys and girls wearing eyeliner. On the grandiose “When I Disappear,” Christensen sings, “Walk away but don’t retreat / I’m in a photograph on your wall / And it’s all you’ll ever need.” The burning melody is just enough to leave teary streaks of eye make-up on your cheeks.
stellastarr* follows in the grand tradition of bands like Talking Heads, Pulp, and Devo that blossomed out of an art school campus — for stellastarr*, it was Brooklyn’s Pratt Institute of the Arts, to be exact. After graduation, the members of the group had been working in fields only slightly more stable than rock’n’roll: Christensen sold portraits of musical icons, bassist Amanda Tannen was a graphic designer, and drummer Arthur Kremer acted alongside former child star Rick Schroeder. After graduating from Pratt, the trio teamed up with guitarist Michael Jurin to form the indie rock outfit. The band issued a self-titled debut in 2003, steadily drawing a following for their dramatic new wave and post-punk melodies. After supporting gigs with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, Placebo, and Iggy & the Stooges took them around the world, the four-piece returned to Brooklyn to record their latest disc.
stellastarr* is out on the road now supporting the new record with opening acts like the Magneta Lane, Every Move a Picture, Tom Vek, the Hourly Radio, Giant Drag, and the Spinto Band, among others.
9/13, Chicago, IL (Metro-Smart Bar) # 9/17, Seattle, WA (Chop Suey) * 9/18, Portland, OR (Doug Fir Lounge) * 9/21, Los Angeles, CA (El Ray) * 9/22, San Francisco, CA (Popscene) + 9/23, San Francisco, CA (The Independent) * 9/24, Santa Barbara, CA (Velvet Jones) * 9/25, Solana Beach, CA (Belly Up Tavern) * 9/28, Dallas, TX (Trees) % 9/29, Austin, TX (The Parish) % 10/1, Atlanta, GA (The Loft at Earthlink Live) % 10/2, Orlando, FL (The Social) % 10/4, Philadelphia, PA (TLA) & 10/5, Washington, DC (9:30 Club) & 10/6, New York, NY (Irving Plaza) & 10/7, Boston, MA (The Paradise) ï¿½ (# – with Magneta Lane)(* – with Every Move a Picture)(+ – with Every Move a Picture and Tom Vek)(% – with the Hourly Radio)(& – with Giant Drag)(ï¿½ – with Giant Drag and the Spinto Band)