Reviews for [RL90]
Stars Are Insane "Pop Industry"
- Half Gifts
As the head of one of my favorite purveyors of noise pop, Rok Lok Records, New York's Mike Andriani is in the position to set an ever-evolving standard for the other bands released on his own label. Through his solo project, Stars Are Insane, he is able to manufacture a steady output of his own music, each release venturing into a unique blend of genres, but still strictly adhering to a single aesthetic: crunchy guitars, shimmering melodies and a warped, lo-fi texture. October's split with Monogamy displayed Andriani's ability as a composer of sorts, featuring two ambient pieces that put a sharp focus on layering. Crackling keyboard drones rippled against sharp guitar gales, extremely abrasive, yet still soft and transcendent like an overly hot shower. A 7-inch record shared with Morgue Toad found him strumming minimal bedroom folk, this time offering a bare sort of beauty, his vocals raw and exposed, veiled by paper thin acoustic chords. His first full album in some time, last month's Pop Industry, displays some of his least experimental, but admittedly his most satisfying, work to date, introducing the twangy college rock of R.E.M. to the ultra-DIY ethic of Shrimper Records circa '92. The two styles make for a match made in heaven, resulting in a 20-track effort that feels neither lengthy nor overly indulgent. It's just right. On the surface, Pop Industry feels like it could be audio ripped from a random cassette Andriani found lying on his floor. The track volumes are a bit inconsistent, adding a bit of awkward charm to the album, an element that many Rok Lok bands seem to revel in. But the deeper you get into the album, the more you appreciate the album's intensity. I see each song as a collage of separate instrumentation rather than a single entity, and I feel the more I scrutinize each song, the more and more it feels like it could fall to pieces. But things always find a way of staying together, and I always grow to become a sort of acquaintance with each song by the time it's over. Pop Industry is a very friendly album and I'll be willing to hang out with it anytime there's a tape deck nearby.
- Raised By Gypsies
This might not be the sound that I am used to hearing from Stars Are Insane, but when you title your cassette “Pop Industry”, you have to expect that it’s going to have some sort of pop rock sound to it overall.
There is no easy way to describe the sound Stars Are Insane makes here because while it certainly has its influences, it is the end result of those other sounds being combined with that sort of touch you’d expect from Stars Are Insane. It’d be like one of your favorite artists who is prominent in a specific genre taking a turn into another genre. Sure, the new genre has some hints of its peers, but elements from that original genre still remain for it to keep its own identity.
Everything from the dark, melodramatic guitar riffs of Matthew Sweet to Blur come out in the beginning of this. It is later on that something does come out along the lines of earlier Nirvana, maybe a song like “Sliver” and then something indie rock and possibly some Sig Transit Gloria and/or The Stereo.
There is an acoustic number on Side A that could be Weezer’s “Butterfly” song, but then most of the rock after that turns into something along the lines of Lemonheads, Smoking Popes or even Tom Petty. So many things just seem to be happening at once that it is hard to dissect, and it might even be that way because the vocals are often distorted as if being sung through unconventional methods.
You also have to really appreciate the lyrics on here. “You won’t find my name in the obituaries ‘cause no one cares” is an interesting line that makes me wonder whether people have to submit obituaries to newspapers for publications or if they just come up automatically like the police blotter because, you know, death certificates and all. If they have to be submitted by next of kin/loved one/etc., thinking about someone dying and going unnoticed could be one of the saddest feelings ever.
While I can neither confirm nor deny that the next Stars Are Insane cassette will have this same pop rock sound or go back to previous releases or somewhere new entirely (I really just don’t know personally), it doesn’t matter to me so long as Stars Are Insane continues to create music of this caliber.
- Body Snatcher Reviews
Stars Are Insane is a project done by the dude who runs the wonderful label Rok Lok Records. This project has running at full speed since 1998 and has no intention of ever letting up! "Pop Industry" is the 8th full length album by Stars Are Insane. It contains 20 tracks of lo-fi folky/shoegaze/dream pop/whatever other genre you prefer to call it. This album has something for everyone and is very easy on the ears (analog recordings rule!). The album will shift from a chill shoegaze/dream pop song, to a folky acoustic ballad, to an indie rock banger (see? I told you something for everyone!).
Being a solo artist myself, I have nothing but the utmost respect for other people that are so passionate about music that they even do it by themselves and release their tunes for the entire world to hear. Especially all these lo-fi cats out there right now. Star Are Insane is a project that will always be at the top of the pops for me. Respect.
Rating: "Pop Industry" has snatched 8.5/10 bodies from the morgue. Minus a body and a half for living too far away for me! Someday I'll catch a performance.
Pick this tape up and support a person who's doing it right!