steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion
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The Atari Star

"And Other Smaller, Brighter Worlds" CD

Johann's Face

Genres: indie pop, indie rock, casio pop

Johann's Face
PO Box 479164
Chicago, IL 60647

June 16 - 23 2002

I can see why many people may hate this album.   Coming from Johann's Face, a label that's known mostly for releasing punk, emo, and potent indie rock, The Atari Star comes as something of a surprise.  Like Stereolab with Flaming Lips, the band stays mostly within the soft, poppy realm.   It can be happy; it can be sad - but no matter what, it's still poppy, and while this can become redundant at times, it's still jolly good fun.

"Black Licorice and Gasoline Fumes", one of the album's most inspired bits, is probably the most lighthearted song to ever use the word "gasoline fumes" in its title.   It's got young, friendly vocals, sixties-gameshow style Casio keyboarding, and sparse, upbeat guitar playing - yet it could be the album's most "hard" song.

"Apologies in Advance" is one of the softer songs, combining soft, moody casio-chord progressions with lyrical imagery ("There's a sharp December hush/In the clearing where she kneels/Frost upon the ground/Shoes worn at the heel").   Meanwhile, "Invisible Summers"   has a bit of a Mull Historical Society influence to it (read "Watching Xanadu"), "Winter Birthmark" is a warm, sixties-tinged track, and "Hands Accidentally Touch" is slow, spaced-out country music.

With all the pleasant, catchy tunes on this album, it's hard not to like it.   While it may take a couple of listens before it all clicks into place, "...Worlds" is certainly worth a listen.  This is by no means a classic, but it's still a great deal of fun.

Matt Shimmer