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People Are Different

Wooden Stars

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Album Review

Formed in Ottawa in 1993, the Wooden Stars released four indie albums and a collaborative effort with singer Julie Doiron up through 1999, drifted apart unceremoniously for four years, and then resurfaced in 2004. People Are Different, the quartet's first album in eight years, mixes up new tunes, retreads of material that languished in the vaults and a remake of "The Last Secret Infirmary," from 1998's Rise Up & Get Down. But since they've been a mostly local phenomenon — albeit one that supposedly influenced Arcade Fire, among other Canadian bands — this record will likely be the first exposure for many to the Wooden Stars, and it's a great place to start checking them out. They claim XTC as one of their own prime influences, and that is apparent in the angular but melodic guitar lines and keening, often tandem-sung vocals (not cited by the band is David Byrne, but there's an uncanny resemblance at times to him as well). Tracks such as "Pretty Girl," "Gold Dust" and the quaking opener "Orphans" share relatively opaque lyrics and perpetual-motion, twisted rhythms that keep the listener guessing. They're not doing anything other indie rockers haven't done before them, but they're doing it with a rekindled fire under them.

Biography

Formed: 1992 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Since 1992, the Wooden Stars have fused together their upbringing of jazz, post-punk, and indie to result in a sound of flowing, guitar-driven ballads. After two years of playing around their native Ottawa, Lunamoth Records released the Stars' self-titled debut EP and the Very Same full-length the following year. Four years, two releases, and a label switch later, Matlock Records put out the Wooden...
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People Are Different, Wooden Stars
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