The Stars Explode
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The Stars Explode

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States | SELF

Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States | SELF
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The hills are alive with the sound of sweet, melodic power pop ... the hills of North Carolina, that is. Fans of pure pop will totally dig this superb new disc from Hillsborough, N.C.'s The Stars Explode, a fine new band of veterans who've pooled their talents to create one of the year's best releases so far. Recorded at the studio of pop guru Mitch Easter, the record is steeped in all that makes a genuine, heart-felt pop album great: well-written, catchy songs, crunchy guitars and tons of hooks. Lead singer/guitarist Doug Edmunds (formerly of outstanding pop band Gladhands) sounds downright joyous as he passionately croons his way through the 10 tracks. Fans of Utopia, Material Issue or The Posies would definitely dig this album. It's a great way to get my Monday morning off to a rousing start, although I have a feeling that with an album as infectious and catchy as Between The Lines, I'll be playing it often throughout the week as well. - Creative Loafing


Doug Edmunds of Gladhands and Violet Vector and The Lovely Lovelies fame is back with his other band, The Stars Explode, and their new record, Between The Lines, is built on a solid North Carolina power pop foundation.

It’s mostly about big guitars and big melodies on Between The Lines. Things kick off with “Here and Now,” a lively tribute to living in the moment. “Feet of Clay” has some nice interplay between lead vocals and solo guitar, played by Eric Peterson. It’s fun to hear such unashamed guitar solos front and center.

With the legendary Mitch Easter heading up the production, everything sounds vibrant and brilliant. Even the quieter, rougher textures of “Out on a Limb” and “Memphis Moon” radiate brighter colors and tones. “Memphis Moon” slows things down just in time to prevent a power pop overdose.

The themes are darker than the upbeat music suggests. “What’s It Gonna Take To Make You Happy” is about as upbeat as a break up song can get.

The lyrics are mostly straight forward through out Between The Lines, but there are some groan-inducing puns here and there.

“Suddenly, everything’s gone viral,” Edmunds sings on “Fill in the Blank,” a fantastically energetic song, “Funny how no one wants the cure.” It’ll make you shake your head for a second, but it easy to forgive when the next chorus rolls around.

Simply put, Between The Lines is a fun record to listen to. It may not be revolutionary, but it will get listeners to dust off that air guitar and pick up that hairbrush mic to play along with The Stars Explode. - Triangle Music


This is a no-brainer! It’s a North Carolina mini-supergroup pairing ‘90s Chapel Hill staple Doug Edmunds, Gladhands co-singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, with half his ‘80s forebears, dBs’ drummer Will Rigby and his one-time bandmate, guitarist Eric Peterson. With famed Carolina contemporary Mitch Easter engineering, and excellent bassist FJ Ventre, it’s everything you’d draw up in your head. Between is a cleanly produced, capital “p” power-pop record with expected Raspberries/Badfinger influences, a mix of loud and soft tunes a la Nick Lowe’s Labour of Lust, The Replacements’ Pleased to Meet Me, the dBs’ Repercussion, Sloan’s Pretty Together, XTC’s Orange & Lemons, and especially, You Am I’s #4 Record (Edmunds’ voice is even Tim Rogers-like). From guitar-crunchy Beatlesque “Taxman” licks (“Cinderella at Half Past”) to lullabies, Between rocks and rolls. --Jack Rabid - The Big Takeover


Carrboro's The Stars Explode opened the show with a fantastic set of pop rock tunes, mostly from their brand new album Between the Lines. The set also included a cover of Badfinger's "Baby Blue" which they dedicated to Fountains of Wayne. - Triangle Music


The stars are not the only things that explode on this snarly pop rocker led by former Gladhander Doug Edmunds and the dB’s former rhythm section. It takes only four bars for “Here and Now” to scoop you up and sweep you along like a downhill locomotive–hits the bridge becoming airborne before turning into the hook’s sweet chorus. Eric Peterson’s electric guitar is like watching a master Japanese calligrapher at work. “Feet of Clay” highlights Edmunds’ musical and emotive voice with lyrics that check “Faust.” The guy who made a deal with the devil, not the band or the comic. “Fill in the Blanks” is classic power-pop with an instantly memorable bridge. “Funny Feeling”–top down cruising song.
“Memphis Moon” would make Alan Toussaint proud with its strings and soulful chorus “Cinderella” shows off Edmunds astonishing vocals, including a Dylanesque aside, with expert support from drummer Rigby. “Dynamite’s” crazy bridge takes us into mad experimental pop territory. “What’s It Gonna Take” features classic pounding heartland chords with an industrial-strength chorus that explodes into stadium pyrotechnics and an Air Guitar Minute. The Stars command attention not only with their music but with their ideas. - Popgeekheaven.com


Doug Edmunds has been bouncing around the Triangle's poppier quadrants for years, playing in bands including Gladhands and Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies. His latest project is The Stars Explode, whose new album "Between the Lines" is a super-catchy slab of Tar Heel melodic goodness (no surprise, studio genius Mitch Easter was involved on the technical side). The Stars Explode play at 8 p.m. Saturday at West End Public in Chapel Hill with Fan Modine and Michael Rank's Stag. Cover is $5. - News & Observer


The Stars Explode started as a kind of vanity solo project by Doug Edmunds, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of critically acclaimed ’90s power pop outfit, Gladhands. “Here and Now” is a great start with a driving beat and Doug’s strong vocal. Guitarist Eric Peterson (DB’s, Matthew Sweet) follows the vocals on “Feet Of Clay” with his signature riffs.

One of the best tracks here is the quirky melody of “Funny Feeling” with its churning rhythm and Edmund’s loose vocals. The lovely acoustic jangle of “Memphis Moon” comes very close to an old Gladhands tune. Another smart melody is on “Cinderella At Half Past” and the fitting coda is on display with “What’s It Gonna Take To Make You Happy?” where the band let’s it all hang out. It’s been over 4 years since Edmunds last Stars Explode project, let’s hope for more to come. - Powerpopaholic.com


“The majority of the songs are upbeat and downright catchy. There are also many layers within each song, but they blend together to form a finely tuned whole that comes across as interesting rather than just noisy. There is something new to discover about the album upon each listen.”
Cassie Perez - The Daily Tarheel
- The Daily Tarheel


The Stars Explode, led by drummer/ part-time vocalist/ contributing songwriter turned guitarist/ frontguy/ sole songwriter Doug Edmunds, has been around since late 2007, but the four-piece never got a proper introduction. And even if it had, some lineup changes this year would be enough to call for a reintroduction. In February, lead guitarist Eric Peterson signed on, joining Edmunds and bassist/ supporting vocalist FJ Ventre. And in August, drummer Will Rigby (The dB's, Steve Earle's Dukes) came aboard after relocating to Chapel Hill.

Having drummed in bands since he was 13, Edmunds is comfortable with his move to the front of the stage. He credits Jeff Carlson, his bandmate in '90s hard-poppers Gladhands, for schooling him in the arts of writing and arranging. He's also quick to cite those around him now. "My job is made easier by the caliber of guys I'm playing with and the fact that we've all been at this awhile." He's less comfortable with the power pop tag—"It brings to mind really twee, lame-ass bands from the '80s." He prefers "pop rock," thank you. The Stars Explode is preparing to take that pop rock into the studio with Mitch Easter for #2 Record. "Just the working title," says Big Star fan Edmunds with a laugh. —Rick Cornell - The Independent Weekly


Discography

Doug Edmunds Presents...The Stars Explode (2008)

Between The Lines (2012)

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Bio

The Stars Explode started as a kind of vanity solo project by DougEdmunds, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of critically acclaimed ’90s power pop outfit, Gladhands. Taking a Todd Rundgren/Jon Brion DIY approach, Edmunds tracked the first TSE record almost entirely alone at home, layering one part after another, while staying true to the limitations of his 8-track analog format. By summer 2008, he found himself with a bona fide solo album. Since then,the group has evolved through several lineups and has included along the way former(and current) members of the dBs, Violet Vector and the Lovely Lovelies, Steve Earle’s Dukes, the Wild Giraffes, and Fan Modine.

In 2010, with the band consisting of FJ Ventre on bass, Eric Peterson (ex-dBs, Matthew Sweet) on lead & rhythm guitar, and Will Rigby (ex-dBs, Steve Earle’s Dukes) on drums, TSE headed to Mitch Easter’s celebrated studio, the Fidelitorium, to record the basic tracks for its sophomore release. The results of those sessions and a year’s worth of overdubbing at the band’s personal studios resulted in the critically acclaimed Between The Lines. Jack Rabid started his review of the album in The Big Takeover with “This is a no brainer!” David Menconi, in the Raleigh News & Observer, wrote, “Between the Lines is a super-catchy slab of Tarheel melodic goodness.”

The band played locally and regionally in support of the record through most of 2012--including opening slots for Fountains of Wayne and the dBs--with Cleveland music scene veteran, Jackson McGee, having taken over for Rigby on drums after Rigby’s return to the dBs and Steve Earle’s band. After Peterson and Ventre left the band in late 2012 to focus on other projects, lead guitar duties were taken over by local guitar wizard, Dewey McAfferty, while the dynamic Lance Westerlund (Bull City, My Dear Ella) assumed the bassist role. Before leaving, Ventre played on and mixed TSE’s cover of the Elvis Costello classic “(I Don’t Want To Go To) Chelsea,” slated for release in spring 2013 as part of the tribute compilation Beyond Belief.

Currently, the band is hard at work on an album’s worth of new material and remains focused on recording while putting together shows for summer and fall 2013.