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StellaStarr* - another class act from the Big Apple

Story: Jack Foley

NEW York may lay claim to producing some of the finest punk-rock bands of the moment (such as The Rapture and The Strokes), but being labelled 'the latest to emerge from..' can be a pretty mixed blessing for any new act at the moment.

Take the highly-rated StellaStarr*, for instance, who on their website, state that 'it’s a weird time to be a band based in New York City... So much is implied in being a 'band from NY', that the music can get lost in the shuffle'.

However, as StellaStarr* is proving on stations such as Radio 1 and Xfm at the moment, it's not where you’re from that determines your music, but where you’re going.

The NY-based four piece have blasted onto the London music scene thanks to their debut EP, Somewhere Across Forever - and anyone expecting another slice of Strokes-inspired punk-rock simplicity would be sorely mistaken.

Sure, the track does start with the same type of vocal style as a White Stripes/Strokes first verse, but then it gives way into something different altogether - a breezy, hopelessly addictive throwback to the Brat Pack-led Eighties new wave, which wouldn't sound out of place on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, combined with a strangely Brit-pop edge.

The Eighties comparison is something that a lot of critics are picking up on, as the sound is making something of a revival at the moment (witness the latest Good Charlotte single, as a prime example).

Comprised of singer/guitarist, Shawn Christensen, bassist, Amanda Tannen, guitarist, Michael Jurin and drummer, Arthur Kremer, the band has already gone down a storm in America, which is eagerly anticipating the release of the debut album.

Shawn, Amanda and Arthur became friends while studying at Brooklyn Art School, Pratt Institute Of The Arts, after which they formed a group called Ghistor.

Though short-lived, owing to the fact that Shawn had only played guitar for about six months, and Arthur had been playing drums for about six weeks, it laid the foundations for stellastarr, which was formed in Spring 2000, when the three reconvened in NYC after graduation, adding guitarist Michael Jurin to the lineup.

Jurin, for his part, had recently moved to NY, leaving his former band, Charlotte’s Funeral, back home in Philadelphia.

According to the band's website, Jurin had just settled in with Kremer’s old room-mate, just at the time the trio had begun looking for a more guitar-heavy sound.

The band subsequently developed its sound by gigging around the Big Apple, at prestigious NY venues such as The Luna Lounge, and at the Tiswas NYC weekly, Saturday Night party at Don Hill’s.

It was here that they DJ/promoter, Nick Marc, witnessed their potential and invited acclaimed producer, Tim O’Heir (who had worked with The Folk Implosion and Dinosaur Jr) to check out a live show.

The rest, as they say, is history...

StellaStarr*’s debut EP, Somewhere Across Forever, resulted from O'Heir's decision to get them into a studio and was released on Nick Marc’s label, Tiswas Records, in December 2002, quickly attracting a loyal following among listeners and DJs in the States and paving the way for the band's path to stardom in the UK.

The picture, above left, is copyrighted to Ruvan and is one of several to feature on the band's website. We'll bring you more details as we get them...


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