Review: Powerpop with The Stars Explode, West End Public 03/03/2011
I don’t get out much these days. Since life is particularly demanding at the moment and there is little time for anything other than work, I have to be very selective in how I use that time. As a teenager I was a huge dBs fan so when I’d heard that their drummer, Will Rigby, was part of the new release from The Stars Explode, well, I had to go see them. And it just so happens that their CD release party was just down the road a piece.
I hadn’t heard of the venue, West Side Public, for a reason. It’s not a club but an event space in Chapel Hill that one can rent out for a fee. Getting there was a bit of a trial as the students from UNC had spilled out onto Franklin Street to celebrate their victory over hated rival Duke and build a few bonfires, get drunk, and do stupid things they are better off not remembering in the morning. We arrived at West Side Public just as the opening band, Stag, performed a few acoustic numbers. Next was Bo Modine, an interesting blend of powerpop and God only knows what, but all of it quite good. Finally, around midnight the headliner, The Stars Explode, leaped on stage.
For the uninitiated, The Stars Explode is a vehicle for the imagination of Doug Edmunds, songwriter, guitarist, and founding member of critically acclaimed ’90s power pop group, Gladhand. While this isn’t a CD review (that will be forthcoming at a later date), here’s a brief description of their current LP, Between The Lines:
Recorded with renowned producer/engineer, Mitch Easter at his studio, The Fidelitorium, the new album is a 10-song collection that’s equal parts rock and pop, bursting with hooks, harmonies, and melodies, guitars and more guitars, and unapologetic in its classic approach to songcraft. – Ray Gianchetti, Kool Kat Records
The band, sans Will Rigby who was obligated elsewhere at the moment, played a short set of songs from the present CD, almost in the same order as the track listing. The opening song, “Here and Now”, was an uptempo, driving powerpop number and the strongest song of the set, primarily because of the vocal performance. Some of the other songs in the set suffered from being sung in a register that was just a bit too high for Edmunds, imo. That having been said, the band was tight and the songs were catchy, the melodies memorable. “Cinderella At Half Past” is a quirky number with a great melody and “What’s It Gonna Take To Make You Happy?” was an energetic end to a short set of distinct pop songs that would please any powerpop aficionado.
In addition to frontman Edmunds, The Stars Explode are Jason McGee on drums, Bassist FJ Ventre, and guitarist Eric Peterson, all quite good.
While the attendance wasn’t what I would have thought it should be for these guys, the evening was a success in that the band was crisp, the songs more than worthy of my time and money, and on top of that, I ran into an old friend I haven’t seen in years (Larry, it was great to see you!).
Visit The Stars Explode on their Myspace page or go see ’em live. Really. It’s worth your time. I don’t get out a lot. Did I say that already?