Given the ubiquity of Big Star in the power pop universe, it’s no surprise to find ‘star’ worked into all sorts of guitar slashing, melody-infused musical projects. Today’s exemplars are bit different though. Both acts are not afraid to step away from the type casting on occasion, adding a different layer of poprock sophistication to their tunes. Vancouver’s Star Collector are veterans of many Who-like chord-ringing anthems and their recent Game Day is no exception, with plenty to please fans of the Who/Jam/Weller nexus. But I’m drawn to an outlier on the record, the subtle acoustic ear worm that is “Hook, Line and Singer.” The vocals remind me of The The’s Matt Johnston while the overall vibe of the song is reminiscent of John Power’s 1990s band Cast or a low key Oasis. Tripping over to Europe, Cheap Star offer up a very different mix of melody-rich influences, drawing on Teenage Fanclub, the Posies, Matthew Sweet and many others. I loved the Nada Surf wash all over “Flower Girl” with its smooth vocals and slight hint of menace in the melody when I reviewed it last fall. Now I’m grooving on the band’s great hooky new song “Wish I Could See,” another pre-release single from the upcoming album of the same name.
You won’t need a sextant or telescope to find these stars. Just open your ears at their respective Bandcamp pages and let the music do its work.