Art school is tough. There's a sneaking suspicion among the student body that despite their talent and allusions of creativity, they are destine to do hack work in the real world. Rock has long been a haven for the art school refugee. And why not? You make the rules, not some snotty art director.
While attending Manhattan's Pratt Institute of the Arts in the late '90s, Shawn Christensen (vocals/guitar), Amanda Tannen (bass), and Arthur Kremer (drums) formed a short-lived group called Ghistor. Excursions into the work-a-day world led the trio, along with Charlotte's Funeral guitarist Michael Jurin, to launch Stellastarr. In '02 they released the "Somewhere Across Forever" EP. The song "My Coco" got the group noticed. The song also appeared on the group's self-titled full-length debut the following year. Stellastarr's sophomore effort "Harmonies For The Haunted" saw the light of day in '05.
Welcome to the late '70's/early '80s: the era of Punk and New Wave. Bands either had Punk's visceral drive or New Wave's heady intellectualism. Three decades down the road bands have learned to effectively merge those styles. Stellastarr is one of them. On their self-titled debut, they possess more than a passing resemblance to the B-52s, especially Chrisensen's Fred Schneider like singing style, which can go from breathy to a charming falsetto, and Tannen's airy backing vocals. But on the jangling "Jenny" and "No Weather" Stellastarr displays their Punk chops while "Pulp Song" travels into Wall Of Voodoo territory. "My Coco" starts contemplative before turning into a frolicking, goofy track. It's one of the best '80s Wave songs ever - 25 years after the fact. The guitars and vocals are dead-on.