The major eons of rock: In the ’60s it was psychedelic, folk rock, and the British invasion. The 1970s were punk and new wave. The ’80s gave us glam and big-hair rock, and the ’90s belonged first to grunge and then to indie. The current decade has been about file sharing, rock-music hybrids, the revival of garage and punk, and what may eventually be tagged as the first generation of a new flavor: I’ll call it disposable rock.
“Everything is instant,” emailed a friend of mine in the music industry last week. “[These days] I don’t have songs or albums that remind me of a time anymore.” I agree, but I’m not sure that this notion of a new and disposable rock bothers me so much, as long as it is useful to the needs of the moment. stellastarr, a New York art pop band, fits this mold. Great rock and roll, and when it’s over, it’s over, and you move on.
In 2003 stellastarr was a band of twentysomethings fresh out of art school in Brooklyn and were being called New York’s finest indie export since the Strokes. Despite the buzz, their star never burned as brightly, perhaps in part because at the time stellastarr was yet another melodramatic hipster band informed by ’80s pop in a veritable sea of same. They were part of the new and growing generation of rockers who were denied the kinds of sales generated by significant radio play and instead made their bones through constant touring. I hear a crisp Cars thing in the mix these days, with strong rock intent and timing and with some witty harmonizing between Shawn Christensen and Amanda Tanner. Disposable? Yes. But bad? No, and you can hear the real band now.
stellastarr: The Casbah, Sunday, December 6, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $14 advance; $15 day of show.