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01 10 2002
MusicMatch.com reviews Outerstar album...
"A new CD by a band called Outerstar restores our editor's faith in humanity, or at least his faith in indie music."

Independent music sucks.  Since a lot of my favorite bands aren't on major labels it feels a little hurtful to say it.  And, it's not so much that those artists suck, it's just that there is so much indie music out there, that the spectrum becomes vast, and it's inevitable that a huge chuck of it is going to, well, blow chunks.  Putting out a record has become so easy that the threshold for doing so no longer has talent as part of the equation.  So, the top indie bands -- your and my favorites -- may still be great, but the bottom keeps getting lower and lower, bringing the whole incongruous mass down.

So, when I get these envelopes from labels I've never heard of, like a Jaggo Records, I'm not sure if the three-ply rubber gloves and gas mask that I don while opening them is to protect me from anthrax or the corrosive brain-eating attempts at music that often lurk inside.  Still, there's some powerful force -- a deathwish? -- inside me that makes me listen to every single disc I get my hands on - at least one song, anyway.  In the case of the band Outerstar and their self-titled debut, one song was enough to draw me in.  The first track on the disc, and the first single, is "You Love It When It Rains" which is just great.  I know a lot of artists hate getting compared to existing bands, but I got a real Spacehog meets Oasis meets Primitive Radio Gods vibe from that track - that is to say, a sort of glam-pop with a modest digital edge.  It's one of those songs that catches you pretty quickly and sticks in your head.  A lot of bands -- Starsailor, Coldplay, Travis -- are trying this fusion of Brit-pop and tricky guitartronic weirdness in various flavors.  Outerstar come up with their own close-to-the-vest take on this sound that stands well among the bigger names.

Outerstar are Nat Schellin and Chris Martin, a couple of guys who were sick of compromising in bands that they didn't necessarily believe in.  In the musical melting pot that is L.A., they discovered a compositional compatibility in each other and dropped the excess baggage of a larger band structure.  Rather than compensate for weak links, they were able to exercise their own high levels of musicianship, with the end result being this self-titled CD.

Outerstar keep that technical quality at a high level throughout much of the CD, exploring various aspects of modern melodic song-oriented pop.  Driving pop rock on "In the Streets" is contrasted set off by a lush arrangement of strings and piano in "Run With Me".  The album is filled with contrasts such as these without ever wandering off down dead-ends.  I was happy to run across this CD.  If nothing else, it renewed my willingness to brave the next mysterious package I get in the mail.
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