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Against the Stars

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Album Review

Against the Stars is third major label album from the Dambuilders. Against the Stars diverges from the simple production of previous releases, favoring a more dense, complicated sound. Gone is the indie rock guitar-based approach, resulting in a heavily produced set of 13 songs. Imagine a poppy prog rock record and you have Against the Stars. The band released a single in 1992 called Pop Song Equals Food and, clearly, they may have changed their approach by 1997 to Pop Production Equals Food. Fans of the older material actually might be scared off by the new sound. But the self-produced effort mixed by Robbie Adams (Bogmen, David Garza, U2) is a very exciting album. "Break Up With Your Girlfriend" is a tightly written pop song with Smashing Pumpkins fuzzy guitars that could easily fill a stadium. If Encendedor and Ruby Red were more akin to Sub Pop records, then Against the Stars is closer to Cheap Trick arena rock. It is no coincidence that the album starts with the track "Digitize," signaling a change from four-track simplicity to multi-track complexity. The album's production brings a muddy, wall of sound effect to the band's soaring melodies and harmonizing vocals. "Burn This Bridge" is a metaphor for the band's new direction. "Watch me burn this bridge...DOWN" screams vocalist Dave Derby, as the music switches from barely distorted, softer guitars with a restrained rhythm to slash-and-burn axe grinding with a raging, take-no-prisoners backbeat. The shift in aesthetics is thrilling and expertly achieved. Other highlights include "Herstory," which could have fit in on any mid-'80s Def Leppard LP, "I Was Wrong," and "Seek and Destroy."


Formed: 1989 in Boston, MA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Formed in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989, the alternative pop band the Dambuilders originally comprised vocalist/bassist Dave Derby and guitarist Eric Masunaga, both formerly of the Exactones. Shortly after forming, the duo recorded a demo, dubbed A Young Person's Guide, which mysteriously made its way to Europe, where it landed at the offices of the Berlin-based label Cuacha; with only minor remixing, the label soon released the tapes as an LP, and the band subsequently toured Germany. Upon returning...
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Against the Stars, The Dambuilders
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