Review: Jack Foley
STELLASTARR*, they kicked fuckin arse, man!
was the excited cry of one fan after the rapidly emerging New
Yorkers finished their support slot for Janes
Addiction, at the Hammersmith Apollo, on Wednesday night (November
It may have been over-enthusiastic, but not that wide of the
mark, for StellaStarr* did, indeed, justify their reputation as
one of this years brightest discoveries, and didnt
seem at all phased by the prospect of playing second fiddle to
one of alternative rocks biggest bands.
Musically accomplished, and possessing an air of emerging cool
that seems almost exclusively reserved for anyone out of New York
nowadays, StellaStarr* delivered a short, but memorable, set that
drew a deservedly enthusiastic response from the Janes Addiction
Opening with the edgy, vocal-strewn album track, In The Walls,
the band then delivered a quick-fire showcase of their obvious
talent, which provided plenty to ponder for the future.
Lead singer, Shawn Christensen, provides a no-nonsense presence,
seeming content to get on with the music, rather than court the
crowd in any way, while his enthusiasm for the material is plainly
evident for all to see, as he wails, contorts his body and generally
gets lost in the frenetic mix of lively drums and guitars which
are a defining feature of the debut album.
His distinctive, powerful vocals evoke memories of 80s-based
outfits, such as the Psychedelic Furs, Talking Heads and John
Lydon, while the guitar sound is also reminiscent of bands such
as The Cure, as well as remaining in keeping with the new rock-punk
sound that has excited the music buying public, once again.
Where StellaStarr* mark themselves out from being just
another band riding on the coat-tails of forerunners such
as The Strokes, however, is in the range of their music, and the
presence of female vocals.
Sadly, this was the one area where they struggled to recapture
the form of the album. Bassist, Amanda Tannen, seemed to struggle
to be heard above the powerful guitars (much as she did at the
bands Barfly gig, earlier this year), which occasionally
threatened to diminish the impact of tracks such as Somewhere
Across Forever and No Weather (in which she features
Tannen gave it her all, to be fair, but either her vocals werent
powerful enough, or the acoustics of the Apollo failed to do it
justice - all of which meant that for those listening for the
first time, some of the material sounded a little simplistic when
compared to the studio work.
That said, the multi-layered guitar riffs, coupled with Arthur
Kremers energetic drumming, served to ensure that StellaStarr*
were musically very tight, and hugely accomplished, and tracks
such as Somewhere Across Forever, My Coco, the instrumental,
Moongirl, and the finale, Jenny (another former
single) helped to provide a near-perfect starter to the main course
served up by Dave Navarros legendary antics.