Two New York folksters, Rob Corradetti and Kaia Wong, have created a hybrid experimental and classic folk-pop-indie masterpiece. The Eastern Stars released their debut album, July 5, 1961, in a basement on an eight-track after a daunting musical tour under their original band name, Mixel Pixel. This duo is daring, yet traditional, and for only two musicians, have quite an expansive instrumental arrangement on this album. Songs vary from straight acoustic to electric, backed up by incorporations of violins, a Moog, omnichord and even an ukulele, making The Eastern Stars a one-in-a-million kind of band with a one-in-a-million kind of sound.Though July 5, 1961, was released in 2004, the majority of the songs were written together by the ex-lovebirds in 2001. The reason for such a delay was financially-related, and though the recording quality seems low, it fits The Eastern Star’s vintage persona perfectly. Who says “the bigger the better?” The Eastern Stars define “less is more.”
The opening and perhaps my favorite track, “They Know What to Do,” is a very ’60s, classic folk song reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel. Other folk gems on this album would be “In Russian Blue” and “I Fear the Love (I Will).” The songs are simple and the instrumental layout is graceful. The lyrics are pretty emotionless and dry, but if they were empowering or sappy, the whole album would hold less merit.
As for the experimental side of The Eastern Stars, one could pretty much align these two with Yo La Tengo, The Velvet Underground or Pink Floyd. “The Ticket that Exploded” seems as if it were merely plucked from the branches of Yo La Tengo’s “And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out.”
As much as I am a sucker for classic folk-pop, I also am infatuated with any kind of experimental work. The Eastern Stars have, without a doubt, the most interesting, coherent and tolerable experimental work I’ve heard in quite some time. Stand out experimental tracks off July 5, 1961 would be “Little Punk,” “White Belt/Adverse Invest,” and “Secret #.”
One critic has been quoted as saying The Eastern Stars are like “Kerouac hanging out with The Carpenters.” It’s adventurous, emotive, expressive music and, above all else, it’s original! It’s the cornerstone of hip at a vintage crossroads.
For more information of The Eastern Stars, you can check out their Web site, www.mixelpixel.com/eastern. Currently, they are not touring but be on the look out! I have a feeling the Mixel Pixel following will hop on The Eastern Stars bandwagon; this stuff is just too good to ignore.